HR Question of the Week

Question

One of my clients has an employee asking her for double pay because they worked the bank holidays in April – are they legally entitled to this?

 

Answer

Bank holidays are generally viewed as a bonus day off work for staff but employers often struggle with applying employment rights correctly across these days. Pay for bank holidays can be a contentious issue.

There is no legal right for employees to be paid additional rates for working bank holidays. Employees may think this is unfair, as they have essentially given up a day’s holiday to work, but legislation does not provide for staff to be paid any more than their normal pay rate. Any worked bank holiday hours will count towards working time for National Minimum and Living Wage purposes so it is important that their average pay works out at, or above, the minimum pay rate for their age.

Your client needs to check the company’s contracts of employment; their employees should be paid additional pay if this is outlined in their contracts. Some contracts will specify that staff are entitled to an increased rate of pay, for example, time and a half or double pay, for working bank holiday hours. This makes it a contractual entitlement to receive extra pay, rather than a legal entitlement.

Failing to pay the specified additional contractual rate for bank holiday work will constitute a breach of contract and the employee could go on to claim for this or for an unlawful deduction of wages claim.

Choosing to give extra pay as a one-off to appease a disgruntled member of staff can leave the employee with an implied contractual term that they will receive extra pay each time they work bank holiday hours.  It may also lead to a future precedent for other members of staff who hear about this arrangement and then claim they should also receive extra pay. A failure to apply equal bank holiday pay rates to all members of staff could lead to claims of less favourable treatment.

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