Can your boss force you to work the August Bank Holiday?

Millions of people will be counting down to a much-deserved extended weekend when the Bank Holiday Monday arrives.

21st August 2019

With good weather expected for the bank holiday, it'll mean lie-ins, barbecues and brunches for many. But spare a thought for the restaurant, pub, taxi and NHS workers that will be setting their alarms for gruelling shifts come Sunday night.

Can you refuse to work? DAS Law’s Hannah Parsons outlines your rights.

Check your employment contract

Whether or not you have to work the Bank Holiday will depend on your contract of employment. That is usually a written document, but it doesn’t have to be. The terms can also be found in what is implied through custom and practice.. 

Some employers close down on Bank Holidays and your contract will entitle you to take those days in addition to, or as part of, your annual leave entitlement in which case you would not be required to work.

However, if Monday 26 August falls on one of your normal working days, and your employer opens for business on public holidays and expects you to work, then you are likely to be contractually obliged to work unless you have been granted annual leave.

In short, if your contract states it’s business as usual and compulsory, you’ll be expected to work. However, if the office is closed, you won’t be obliged to go in unless you’ve agreed otherwise. This may or may not involve your holiday allowance.

What about taking it as holiday?

If you are scheduled to work, you are able to request using annual leave on a Bank Holiday just like any other day. However, it will be at the discretion of the employer as to whether the request is granted.

Generally, as long as an employer doesn’t curtail an employees’ right to take annual leave, employers may decline requests for annual leave and will usually rely on business reasons for doing so.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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