Bank holidays and pay in the UK – Comprehensive FAQ, rules & entitlement explained

Last checked and updated on 21 June 2022

In the UK, there are 8 bank holidays each year. These are days when banks and most other businesses are closed. Employees are usually given the day off, although some employers may require workers to come in for a shift. It’s important to understand the rules and requirements when it comes to bank holiday pay.

If you’re an employer and you’re wondering what the rules are around paying your staff for working on a bank holiday, or whether you have to give them the day off altogether, read on! We’ll explain everything you need to know about bank holidays and pay in the UK.

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Working on bank holidays – what are the rules in the UK?

If you’re an employer, you don’t have to give your employees the day off on a bank holiday. However, if they do work, they are entitled to be paid their usual wages for the hours they work.

You can ask your employees to take annual leave on a bank holiday, but they don’t have to agree to this. If they do agree, they should get their usual pay for the hours they work, plus their holiday entitlement.

Bank holiday pay entitlement and laws in the UK

The rules around bank holidays and pay are set out in employment law. The Employment Rights Act 1996 says that workers are entitled to be paid their normal rate of pay if they work on a bank holiday.

This includes workers who are on zero-hour contracts, agency workers, and those who are self-employed.

If you’re not sure what your normal rate of pay is, it’s the amount you usually get paid for the hours you work, including any commissions or bonuses.

Penalties for non-compliance

If you don’t comply with the law on bank holidays and pay, you could be liable for a penalty.

The amount of the penalty depends on how many workers are affected and how long they’ve been employed by you.

For example, if you don’t pay an employee who has worked for you for two years their normal wages for working on a bank holiday, you could be liable for a penalty of up to £5000.

Bank holiday pay entitlement FAQ

Do employers have to pay their staff on bank holidays?

No, employers don’t have to pay their staff if they don’t work on a bank holiday. However, if they do work, they must be paid their normal rate of pay for the hours they work.

Do employers have to pay extra for bank holidays?

No, employers don’t have to pay extra for bank holidays. However, if an employee works on a bank holiday, they are entitled to be paid their normal rate of pay for the hours they work.

Do you have to pay double pay on bank holidays?

No, you don’t have to pay double pay on bank holidays. However, you may have to pay time and a half or give employees the day off in lieu if they work on a bank holiday. The rules on this vary depending on the employee’s contract. You should check with your HR department or employer to see what the policy is.

Do agencies have to pay on bank holidays?

Yes, agencies have to pay workers if they work on a bank holiday. The amount will vary depending on the employee’s contract, but it must be at least the minimum wage.

Does Statutory Holiday Pay include bank holidays?

Statutory Holiday Pay (SHP) does not include bank holidays. SHP is a separate entitlement that is paid on top of your salary, and is calculated based on the number of days you have worked in a given reference period. Bank holidays are considered to be part of your normal working week, and therefore are not included in SHP.

Does Statutory Sick Pay include bank holidays?

No, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) does not include bank holidays. If an employee is off work sick on a bank holiday, they will not receive SSP for that day. However, they may be entitled to contractual holiday pay if their employment contract states that they are entitled to this. If you’re unsure whether your employees are entitled to contractual holiday pay, you should speak to your HR department or an employment law specialist.

Do the government pay for bank holidays?

No, the government does not pay for bank holidays. Bank holidays are classed as public holidays, which means that they’re days when businesses and organisations are closed. The government does not pay for public holidays, but some employers choose to give their employees paid time off on these days.

Is it legal not to pay bank holidays?

No, it is not legal for employers to withhold pay from employees on bank holidays. The only exception to this rule is if the employee has already been paid for work done on a bank holiday, in which case the employer may deduct the amount that was paid from the employee’s next paycheck. If you have any questions about whether or not you should be paying for work done on a bank holiday, you should speak to your HR expert or payroll adviser.

Are bank holidays included in redundancy pay?

Bank holidays are not typically included in redundancy pay, as they are considered to be part of the normal working week. However, if an employee is asked to work on a bank holiday and is not paid for their time, they may be able to claim holiday pay as part of their redundancy package. This is something you should speak to your employer about before agreeing to any redundancy terms.

Do you have to pay bank holidays to part time staff?

The answer to this question is a little bit more complicated than the others, as it depends on the employee’s contract. If the contract states that the employee is entitled to bank holidays off, then they must be given this time off and cannot be asked to work on those days. However, if the contract does not state this explicitly, then the employer may request that the employee works on a bank holiday. In this case, the employee is not legally entitled to be paid for the bank holiday unless they had already agreed to work that day. If you are unsure about what your contract states, you should speak to your employer or an HR professional.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. We recommend that you always speak to a qualified professional to get advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.