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How can businesses manage Bank Holiday staffing better?

Monday, 26 Jul 2021

Bank Holidays are a cause for celebration, but for employers they can be a logistical nightmare. How do you keep operations running when everyone’s off? Or get enough staff to cover jobs when everyone wants to take the day off?

With an additional UK Bank Holiday planned for 2022, now is a good time for companies to think about how you can manage public holidays better – so your workforce can enjoy time off, without having to play catch-up afterwards.

What Bank Holidays are there in 2022?

Public holidays are nothing new; there are at least eight of these days in the UK each year. However, 2022 is slightly different.

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Spring Bank Holiday – which usually falls on a Monday in late May – is moving to the first Thursday in June. There will also be an extra public holiday on Friday 3rd June to create a 4-day weekend.

Here’s a complete list of 2022 Bank Holidays in England and Wales:

  • 3rd January 2022 – New Year’s Day (substitute day as New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday)
  • 15th April 2022 – Good Friday
  • 18th April 2022 – Easter Monday
  • 2nd May 2022 - Early May Bank Holiday
  • 2nd June 2022 – Spring Bank Holiday
  • 3rd June 2022 – Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday
  • 29th August 2022 – Summer Bank Holiday
  • 26th December 2022 – Boxing Day (Boxing Day falls on a Monday in 2022)
  • 27th December 2022 – Christmas Day (substitute day as Christmas Day falls on a Sunday)

For any companies with offices or employees in Scotland and Northern Ireland, there are additional public holidays to consider:

  • 17th March 2022 – St. Patrick’s Day (N. Ireland only)
  • 12th July 2022 - Battle of the Boyne, Orangemen’s Day (N. Ireland only)
  • 30th November 2022 – St. Andrew’s Day (Scotland only)

Do companies have to let employees take Bank Holidays off?

There is no statutory right for employees to take Bank Holidays off work. Ultimately, it depends on the terms of their employment contract. As such, there are two ways in which your business can choose to manage public holidays:

  1. Grant employees the right to take all Bank Holidays off work – this can be in addition to their annual paid leave allowance, or their total holiday allowance can include public holidays.
  2. Opt out of giving people guaranteed time off for Bank Holidays, but make sure they are entitled to book at least 28 days’ paid leave per holiday year

In either set-up, you may still need staff to work during public holidays; it’s up to you whether work shuts down if staff are taking the Bank Holiday off work.

To make the prospect of working on a public holiday more attractive, some companies choose to offer employees time-and-a-half or double pay for Bank Holiday shifts. Or you can offer team members the chance to earn double time off in lieu – so they increase their paid leave allowance by getting two days off for every public holiday.

Whatever model you choose to adopt, remember that the same terms and conditions need to be offered to both full-time and part-time staff. It’s also important to make sure that your holiday policy does not result in any religious discrimination – for example, if Christian employees want to take time off to observe Easter Monday.

How can businesses put Bank Holiday policies into practice?

Deciding how to incorporate public holidays into your annual leave allowance is only the first part of the puzzle. The second is putting your policies into practice.

For example, if you’re shutting down the office for a Bank Holiday, you may find more people than usual want to take the rest of the week off; getting a longer break from work while using less of their annual leave entitlement.

Booking the Bank Holiday week off isn’t a problem in itself. However if too many people take the same days off your service standards will suffer, and colleagues still working could become overloaded. How will you set limits around how many people can be off at any one time?

If you’re still opening over a public holiday, or you need to bring in extra staff to manage demand, how are you going to work out how many people you require? You need to first understand who’s booked time off to understand what skills gap need covering.

Finally, if you’re offering employees time off in lieu as compensation for working a Bank Holiday, you need an effective means of tracking this information and adding it to people’s total leave allocation.

Overtime management

Manage Bank Holidays better with an online holiday planner

All the scenarios we’ve just mentioned can be solved if you choose to manage staff leave through an online holiday calendar.

Unlike spreadsheets and paper forms, a staff leave planner gives everyone in your business visibility over who’s booked time off – including Bank Holidays. And it can make staff scheduling much easier at these times, as you can set rules around how many people can be off at once, whether Bank Holidays come out of people’s total leave entitlement, and add any lieu time accrued during public holidays to people’s paid leave allowance.

Digital holiday planners are very flexible. So in 2022, the extra Bank Holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee can be entered onto your work holiday calendar and added to staff leave allowances. This way, your team can enjoy the celebrations and you can plan staffing needs in advance, to create a strong company culture without compromising on your performance.

Try WhosOff leave management software for free to start planning your staff holiday online.

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Posted by Tony Bushell

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