A handy guide to bank holiday dates in 2018, together with frequently asked questions guide for employers on managing annual leave and holiday pay around bank holidays.  

Bank and Public Holidays in 2018:

Whether you're hankering after your next break, or simply want to get ahead with your workforce planning, here is a list of the bank holidays coming up in 2018:

Mon 1 January - New Year's Day (UK wide)

Tue 2 January - New Year Holiday (Scotland only)

Sat 17 March - St Patrick's Day (Northern Ireland only)

Mon 19 March - St Patrick's Day Holiday (Northern Ireland only)

Fri 30 March - Good Friday (UK wide)

Mon 2 April - Easter Monday (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only)

Mon 7 May - May Day (UK wide)

Mon 28 May - Late May Bank Holiday (UK wide)

Thu 12 July - Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)

Mon 6 August - August Bank Holiday (Scotland only)

Mon 27 August - August Bank Holiday (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only)

Fri 30 November - St Andrew's Day (Scotland only)

Tue 25 December - Christmas Day (UK wide)

Wed 26 December - Boxing Day / St Stephen's Day (UK wide)




1.    How many bank holidays do we have?

The answer depends on where in the UK you are based. England and Wales have eight permanent bank holidays per calendar year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Whereas Scotland has omissions and additions and Northern Ireland has two extra public holidays compared to England and Wales.

2.    Do staff have the right to take time off over bank holidays?

There is no automatic right for employees to take time off work on bank holidays. Any time off depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.

3.    Do staff have the right to enhanced pay for working on a bank holiday?

Not necessarily. When an employee works on a bank holiday, there is no statutory right to enhanced pay “time and a half” or double pay. Any right to extra pay depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.

4.    What about staff who need to work on a bank holiday?

Many of my clients’ businesses operate seven days a week to meet the needs of their customers. Any staff working bank holidays will need to be able to take a corresponding amount of time off at other times, so they are not disadvantaged compared to staff who are not working on bank holidays. The easiest way to do this in practice is to calculate everyone’s bank holidays in hours – this gives them a “holiday pot” of paid leave which they can take across the year, whether they are using it to cover time off on bank holidays or at other times.  

5.    How do I ensure part-time workers are treated fairly?

The fairest approach to part-time employees is to give them a pro-rated allowance of paid bank holidays, irrespective of whether or not they normally work on the days on which bank holidays fall. This is added to their “holiday pot” of paid leave which they can request to take across the year, covering both time off at bank holidays and other days.

If, for example, a bank holiday falls on a part-time worker’s non-working day, they can use the corresponding amount of leave another time. If a bank holiday falls on their normal working day, they can use their holiday hours to cover this day. If they usually work Mondays, they may end up using what seems a disproportionately high amount of their holiday pot to cover the bank holidays – this is lawful, however an alternative is to give them the opportunity to work additional hours at another time during a week when the office is closed on a bank holiday Monday so they have more of their leave to take another time. Whatever you choose to do, you need to ensure it is applied consistently.

6.    What about staff who are on maternity leave?

Staff who are on family-related leave such as maternity, adoption or shared parental leave still accrue holiday allowance whilst on leave. This includes accruing any bank holiday entitlement that is in their contract of employment. As employees cannot take annual leave whilst on maternity or other family-related leave, this entitlement is available to them to take when they return to work. In practice, many returning employees choose to tag it onto the end of their maternity leave.

7.    What about staff wanting time off due to religious festivals?

If an employee is required to work on bank holidays under the terms of their employment contract, the employee cannot refuse to work, even for religious reasons.

However, employers should be aware that refusing to grant Christian employees time off for a bank holiday with religious significance could amount to indirect religious discrimination if it places the employees at a particular disadvantage when compared with employees of other faiths, or non-religious employees.

Similarly, requests from staff of other faiths for time off for religious festivals occurring at other times of the year where there is not a bank holiday should be considered fairly and sensitively, whilst also balancing business needs.

8.    How should statutory leave be worded in an employment contract?

If employers have worded contracts to say that employees are entitled to “statutory entitlement plus bank holidays”, this no longer denotes 20 days’ leave plus eight bank holidays. Following the increase in statutory minimum leave from 4 to 5.6 weeks in 2009, this wording grants 28 days’ holiday with eight bank holidays on top. Check your employment contracts to determine whether your contracts say what you want them to mean - it's fine to offer 28 days plus bank holidays, as long as that is what you have planned to do!

This style of contract wording can also mean that employees may receive more or fewer bank holidays in a twelve-month period if your holiday year runs from April to March. This is because the variable timing of Easter weekend is such that the employee could receive as many as 10 bank holidays one holiday year or as few as six bank holidays the next year. If your holiday leave year runs from April to March (or is based on a variable factor such as employment anniversary) and you are basing your annual leave allowance on the statutory minimum, it is therefore better to say “5.6 weeks including bank holidays” or “28 days including bank holidays” than “20 days plus bank holidays” as this gives consistency and clarity to both parties, as well as avoiding the risk that your employees could receive less than the statutory minimum amount of leave in some years.

Any more questions? If you have any questions about holiday calculations, contact me on 01249 701486 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I would be happy to help.

A recurrent theme in this article is making sure your employment contracts are worded properly. If you have not had your contracts reviewed for a while or don’t have written contracts in place for all of your staff, a good place to start is our HR Health Check or Contracts & Policies Bundle.