Frequently Asked Questions

This page answers some questions which are most often asked about UK bank and public holidays. It is written in general terms only and should not be regarded as a complete and authoritative statement of the law. The entitlement to paid annual leave is contained in the provisions of the Working Time Regulations.

What are bank holidays?

Bank holidays are days in the whole or part of the UK on which banks may close for business. The law makes provision for certain payments to be deferred until the next appropriate day for this purpose.

Does this entitle employees to a holiday?

No. However, in many parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, bank holidays have become widely observed. Employees' terms and conditions of employment therefore commonly include entitlement to a holiday on those days. In Scotland, although bank holidays are observed in the banking and financial sector, they have less general significance; the public and business community in Scotland tend instead to observe various local and traditional days.

What rights do employees have on bank holidays?

Any right to time off or extra pay on bank holidays depends on the terms of an employee's contract of employment. Even when entitlements of this nature are not explicitly written down, they may sometimes be incorporated by custom and practice (for example, where they have become part of the customary terms of employment in a particular industry).

Does the Government have any plans to ensure that employers do not include bank holidays as part of the 20 days statutory annual leave entitlement?

See Holiday Entitlement page.

When are the bank holidays?

The expected dates of bank and public holidays in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland for 2005 to 2008 inclusive have been announced by the DTI. Following Devolution, dates for Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Executive.
There are currently 8 permanent bank and public holidays in England and Wales and Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland. These include Christmas Day and Good Friday which, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, are common law holidays - they are not specified by law as bank holidays but have become customary holidays because of common observance.

What happens when bank holidays fall on a weekend?

Substitute days are customarily appointed for all UK bank and public holidays which fall on a Saturday or Sunday. For some bank holidays, these substitute days are laid down in legislation. In other cases, they are appointed by Royal Proclamation (or Proclamation by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland). The substitute day is normally the following Monday.

What happens to those workers who normally work weekends when certain bank holidays fall at a weekend i.e. Christmas?

Time off for the actual Christmas Day and Boxing Day would be determined by a worker's contract of employment which may have been explicitly agreed or incorporated by custom and practice.

Is there provision for special bank holidays?

Provisions in the legislation enable the dates of bank holidays to be changed or other holidays to be declared, for example to celebrate special occasions. The most recent examples of special bank holidays were for the Royal Wedding in 1981, the Millennium holiday in 1999 and the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.