Easter’s Changing Date Could Force Employers to Breach the Working Time Rules

Mar 10, 2015

The Working Time Regulations 1998 state that workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday per year, this equates to 28 days for a full time worker.

It is common practice for employers to allow their staff 20 days holiday per year, and make up the additional eight days with the usual Public Holidays. This may be phrased in the Employment Contract as ‘you are entitled to 20 days holiday plus the usual public holidays in England and Wales’.

For a holiday period which runs from 1 January to 31 December, the employer should have no worries. However, if the holiday period runs from April to March, the changing date of Easter may result in some employers breaching their obligations under the Working Time Regulations (WTR).

If Easter falls early one year and late the following year, the employee may not receive the full 28 days statutory minimum holiday. Where the contract states a worker is entitled to 28 days holiday (or a pro rata equivalent) inclusive of bank and public holidays there should be no problem. Similarly, where an individual is entitled to significantly more than the minimum, for example, 25 days holiday plus bank and public holidays, the regulations would not be breached.

If the holiday year runs from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, the employer can rely on a generous 10 days of public holidays in England and Wales. By contrast, a holiday year running from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 will only provide six days of public holidays towards the statutory allowance. In these circumstances, the employer would need to allow the individual an extra two days holiday to comply with the law.

In order to comply with the WTR in 2016/2017, employers may be tempted to make payment of two days holiday in lieu. However, this would also be in breach of the WTR. Holiday may only be paid in lieu on termination of employment.

Employers should seek a solution as this may be a recurring issue of a number of years. The employer could change the holiday year, change the wording of the contract, or allow employees to carry holiday over into the next holiday year.

If you are concerned about complying with the Working Time Regulations, or have questions regarding Holiday Pay, contact a member of the Employment Team on 01279 755777.

Darren Hayward

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Darren Hayward

Darren joined Nockolds in 2003 and is the firm’s Managing Partner and Partner in charge of our Employment Law Team. 
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