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Practice dilemma: Bank holidays

Your practice employ a lot of part-time workers. How can you fairly allocate entitlement to bank holidays? Our legal expert advises.

Part-time workers have protection against discrimination so when looking at holiday and bank holiday entitlement they should not be treated less favourably than their full time colleagues, unless the difference in treatment can be objectively justified.

One approach is to only allocate part time workers the bank holidays which happen to fall on the days they would normally work. However, this can cause problems under the regulations because those who do not work on a Monday would receive less pro-rated holiday than a full-timer.

Instead, the best way to achieve equality is to give all part-time workers a pro-rated entitlement to all public holidays.

For example, take an employee working Tuesday - Friday, or 80% of a full timer. There are eight bank holidays per year in England. In 2010, five of these fall on a Monday and so the part-timer would not normally benefit from these. Under the pro-rata principle they are entitled to receive paid time off for 80% of the public holidays i.e. 6.4 days. As three of the bank holiday fall on days normally worked, they should then be given an additional 3.4 days of paid time off (or payment in lieu) for the extra bank holiday entitlement. The exact entitlement will vary year-on-year depending on the days on which the bank holidays fall.

For those who work on a Monday they are usually better off to get the bank holidays off which fall on their working days rather than the pro-rata approach. Taking someone working Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday in 2010, all eight bank holidays fall on their working days, whereas on a pro-rata basis they'd only be entitled to be paid for 6.4 of them.

If you currently have a system of allocating bank holidays which happen to fall on a working day, but wish to implement a pro-rata system to be fairer, then implementing this change to their terms may be difficult with your existing part-timers who work on a Monday. The best way to implement the change is to get the employee to consent, using incentives if necessary, but in the absence of consent you should take legal advice on how to best change terms and conditions of employment.

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards.


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