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Calls for bank holiday if Lionesses win World Cup: What’s the impact on workers?

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The Government is facing calls by a national trade union organisation to grant the country a bank holiday if England Women’s team lift the World Cup on Sunday.

Rishi Sunak was urged to “do the right thing” by the Trade Union Congress after the Lionesses sealed their place in the final against Spain by beating Australia 3-1 in the semis.

However, the Government has so far resisted the request and a spokesperson said the bank holiday “is not something we’re currently looking at.”

They continued: “Winning the World Cup would be a massive moment for the country and make no mistake we’ll find the right way to celebrate.

“As [England manager] Sarina Wiegman herself has said, the first thing to do is focus on the final and the whole country will be rooting for the Lionesses this weekend”.

In the TUC’s statement, it highlighted how the UK has fewer bank holidays than its EU neighbours and pointed out how Spain gets the European average of 12 public holidays. But for many people in the UK the time off can prove costly.

Parents may need to consider paying extra rates for childcare, while workers in the hospitality and retail sectors may miss out on double time or time and a half pay.

Your bank holiday working rights

YourMoney spoke to Alan Price, the CEO of human resources provider Bright HR to discuss what impact the bank holidays have on both sides of the employment coin.

What rights do employees/employers have if they do not want the bank holiday?

When a bank holiday is awarded there is no statutory right to time off: whether an employee is entitled or not will depend upon the specific wording of the contract of employment. If an employee is not entitled to additional bank holidays, they could request annual leave through their usual processes.

If it falls during term time, parents would have to find alternative childcare if they don’t take annual leave, but they may have the right to time off for dependants if there are unforeseen circumstances.

Can employees take the day off another time?

It will depend upon what the contract of employment states as to whether a bank holiday must be taken on the specific day that it falls as decided by the Government, or whether there is some flexibility.

Employees may have to work on the bank holiday itself but then take the day off at another time. An employee, in this situation, could request to take it as annual leave, but this will then be down to the employer to decide whether they can authorise it.

As to whether an employee can take unpaid leave, it will ultimately be at the discretion of the employer as to whether they allow this.

The wider implications will need to be considered, for example, how they would choose between employees if multiple requests are received.

Do employers have to give the bank holiday even if they prefer not to?

Whether an employer must give their employees a bank holiday will depend upon what their contract of employment states.

A contract may state that staff have “20 days’ annual leave plus eight bank holidays which will not entitle staff to the additional day.

However, if the contract does not set out the specific days which are allocated as bank holidays, for example Christmas Day, then the employee could request to take an additional bank holiday and then work one of the other bank holidays later in the leave year.

If a contract entitles staff to 28 days including bank holidays, there will be no obligation to provide an extra day off. Meanwhile, other contracts may state “20 days’ annual leave plus bank holidays”, which will mean that they are entitled to any additional bank holidays granted by the government.

Do employers need to pay staff more who work in hospitality or retail sector?

The pay an employee receives if they do work on a bank holiday is again contract specific.

Some contracts may state that the company will offer an increased pay rate for working the bank holiday to incentivise employees, whilst others will pay at the usual rate.