Employers who have a holiday
year that runs from 1 April to 31 March and contracts that provide for ‘20 days
holiday plus bank holidays’ are at risk of breaching their employees’ annual
leave rights in the 2016/2017 holiday year.
In 2015, Good Friday and Easter
Monday fell on 3 April and 6 April. This year, they will fall on 25 March and
28 March. This means there will be two Easter weekends in the 2015/2016 holiday
year giving a total of 10 bank holidays.
In 2017, Easter returns to
April meaning there will be no Easter
weekends and only 6 bank holidays in the 2016/2017 holiday year.
Employees have a right to a
minimum of 5.6 weeks’ annual leave every year. This equates to 28 days for
employees who work a 5 day week. The 28 days can include bank holidays. With
the way that Easter falls over the next three years, employees who have a
contractual entitlement to ‘20 days plus banks holidays’ will only be entitled to
26 days’ leave in the 2016/2017 holiday year. Employers will need to take steps
to ensure they do not breach their employees’ minimum right to 28 days annual
leave each year.
What steps should employers
The Working Time Regulations
provide that employers can only pay an employee in lieu of holiday on the
termination of their employment. Payment
in lieu is therefore not an option.
Instead, employers should consider carrying out one of the following
- Allow employees to take two extra days leave for the
2016/2017 holiday year to meet the 28 days minimum entitlement.
- Consider moving the holiday year to January – December.
- Consider changing the wording in the employment contracts to
say employees are entitled to ‘28 days holiday inclusive of bank holidays’.
Employers should be aware that
options 2 and 3 involve contractual changes and therefore should not be carried
out without seeking legal advice first. An employer that imposes a contractual
change without the agreement of their employees will be in breach of contract.