Early May bank holiday to move in 2020

VE Day commemorations set to move bank holiday Monday to Friday 8 May.

With the government announcing that next year’s early May bank holiday will be moved from a Monday to a Friday, organisations should consider how this change will affect their long-standing practices.

Whilst there can be a common misconception amongst employees that they are allowed time off on all bank holidays, this is far from the truth. Organisations must remember that employees do not have the statutory right to time off work on such occasions and this is, instead, determined by their contract of employment – moving early May bank holiday from a Monday to a Friday will not affect this.

Therefore, organisations who require employees to work during bank holidays may continue to do so, providing they furnish individuals with the necessary amount of time off in lieu (TOIL) where employees only receive the statutory entitlement to annual leave that includes bank holidays. Alternatively, those who usually allow employees time off on bank holidays are likely to face further difficulties.

The heart of the issue will lie with the wording of existing contracts of employment and organisations should review these carefully in order to determine any impact. Where contracts state employees are entitled to time of on ‘all bank holidays’ or on ‘early May bank holiday’, without expressing a particular date, then they will have a contractual right to the day off on Friday 8 May next year.

On the other hand, organisations whose contracts specifically state employees are entitled to the day off on the usual date of the bank holiday, eg ‘the first Monday in May’, could face additional issues. For example, organisations that typically shut down for bank holidays could face the possibility of employees being on contractual leave on the day the business remains open, and available for work on a shutdown day, something that will naturally threaten their ability to meet customer demand.

In light of this, organisations are encouraged to carefully review the wording within their contracts of employment and plan ahead to mitigate any disruptions. Taking the time to talk the issue out with employees may prove fruitful, especially considering the unusual nature of the bank holiday change. Individuals may prove willing to agree to a temporary amendment of their terms and conditions next year if it benefits the business, however organisations may find themselves needing to incentivise this in order to encourage cooperation.