Extra Bank Holidays: How do I Handle it?

Posted in : How do I handle it NI on 12 September 2022
Employment Team at Tughans
Issues covered: Bank Holidays; Contracts of Employment

I am a human resources manager and have been asked by a number of employees about the forthcoming Bank Holiday on 19th Septmeber 2022 and whether the business will be granting this additional bank holiday. I am not sure of the answer. How do I handle it?

Perhaps contrary to what you may think, there is no automatic entitlement to this extra bank holiday. The answer lies in the wording of the holiday entitlement clause of the contract of employment of each employee.

There are three possible scenarios:

  1. If the employment contract states that employees are entitled to, say, 20 days plus bank holidays, then those employees will be entitled to the additional bank holiday;
  2. If the employment contract refers to the “usual” bank holidays e.g. “you are entitled to 20 days’ holiday, plus the usual bank holidays in Northern Ireland” then as the extra bank holiday is not “usual”, there is no contractual entitlement to take it as a bank holiday. Employees can request it, but it would be taken out of their annual leave entitlement, unless of course you decide to exercise your discretion and give it;
  3. If the employment contract states that employees are entitled to, for example, 28 days inclusive of bank holidays, it will be down to you the employer, to decide whether the additional bank holiday should be included as part of the 28 days, or not.

I would therefore suggest that you firstly check the wording of your contracts of employment to determine what the contractual position is and if necessary, you may need to seek legal advice on that. You should also consider what you did for your staff earlier in the year for the Platinum Jubilee, did you give that entitlement then, irrespective of the contractual position? Of course, you do not need to follow what you did then, but if you take a different approach, then that may raise questions from employees as to why you are derogating from previous practice.

Finally, you should think about the impact on employees of not giving them the extra bank holiday, irrespective of whether legally you are or not obliged to give it. By not granting it, you may have a disgruntled workforce to contend with, especially given the difficulties of the pandemic over the last couple of years and circumstances arising from it and you therefore may decide to grant the extra bank holiday as a gesture of goodwill.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The early bird offer for our Annual Review of Employment Law 2022 conference has been extended due to the bank holiday for HM Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. Register before the deadline of 5pm on Wednesday 21 September and you'll save up to £60 per attendee!


This article is correct at 12/09/2022

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