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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

17 MAR 2016

Leap Year + Early Easter = Holiday Headache

Pam Loch

Managing Partner


Leap Year + Early Easter = Holiday Headache

Easter is nearly upon us. Most of us are looking forward to a long weekend break from work to spend time with friends and family and some of us head off for a week or two away from it all.  

For employers however, this Easter brings an additional dimension. As 2016 is a leap year, businesses will have benefitted from an extra days’ of work from their employees in February. However, if your holiday year runs from 1 April to 31 March, Easter will fall twice over the holiday years. By March 31st 2016 there will have been two Good Fridays and two Easter Mondays in the holiday year 2015/2016. If you were not aware of this your employees will have received two additional bank holidays in the holiday year 2015/16. However this could leave some employers in a difficult position for the next holiday year 2016/2017 if they offer statutory holiday entitlement only.

If your contracts provide statutory minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days plus bank holidays, during the holiday year April 2016 to March 2017 you will providing a holiday entitlement of 26 days as there will only be 6 bank holidays in that period. This falls short of the minimum holiday entitlement for full time employees of 28 days as set out in the Working Time Regulations.

For employers who offer more than 22 days holiday plus bank holidays, this will not present any issues as the overall holiday entitlement will amount to more than the legal minimum of 28 days. However any lower entitlement will need to be reviewed.

For existing staff, you may be able to argue that they have benefitted from an extra 2 days in the holiday year 2015-16 and so it is smoothed out by the reduction in 2016-17. However, this argument is problematical for new employees or employees leaving your employment during the holiday year. In these situations you will need to take into account the full statutory allowance of 20 days plus 8 bank holidays into a holiday calculation to ensure there is no breach of contract and no potential for further dispute.

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Employers who do not ensure their employees obtain the correct holiday entitlement could be exposed to claims of breach of contract and breaches of the Working Time Regulations. If you find your business in this situation, you have the option of either:

  • bearing the cost of additional paid holiday, or
  • negotiating with employees to agree a variation to the terms of the contract to the effect that ‘20 days’ holiday plus eight bank holidays only’ will only be in relation to 2015/16.

Given the timeframe you need to consider this soon if you do have a holiday year which runs from March to April.

So before you plan your Easter break, it is worth checking your holiday entitlement to assess whether you have a potential issue to resolve. Going forward you should consider changing your holiday year too!

Pam Loch, Managing Director of niche employment law practice, Loch Employment Law, HR Advise Me and Loch Training.   

For more information on Loch Employment Law please go to www.lochlaw.co.uk, for Loch Training go to www.lochtraining.co.uk and HR Advise Me go to www.hradvise.me