Due to the dates that Easter falls on next year and the wording in many employee contracts, some employers may need to provide their workforce with an additional day’s leave in 2018, in order to prevent breaching their contract.
Next year, Easter weekend straddles two financial years, starting on 30th March (Good Friday) and running until the 2nd April (Easter Monday). As a s result, employers could risk breaching employee contracts, as they may fall short of a day’s leave.
This will only affect employers and employees whose annual leave timeframe runs from 1st April to 31st March, and won’t affect those whose leave runs from January to December.
The law states that every UK employer is entitled to a minimum 5.6 weeks leave per year. For an employer who works five days a week, this equates to 28 days.
Because the law decrees that these 5.6 weeks can include bank holidays, the wording in many contracts is 20 days leave, plus bank holidays. There are eight bank holidays in a typical calendar year.
But because the following Easter (2019) falls entirely in April, one bank holiday will be missed off the year 2018/9 (Good Friday).
Despite the fact that employers will technically get an extra day in 2016/17 due to the Good Friday, employers will still be breaching the contract for the following year.
That is because allowing employees who work a five day week less than 28 days’ leave is in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998, irrespective of the amount of bank holidays in a particular holiday year.
What will happen?
Employers who have contracts for employees with annual leave running from April to March will need to provide them with an extra day’s leave. For employers, the likelihood is that this will need to be swallowed as a loss.
This is likely to happen again in 2024, when this unusual date situation happens again. As a consequence, employers may want to think about changing the current wording in the contacts they use.
Alternatively, employers could consider moving their annual leave timeframe to run from the 1st January to 31st December. New Year’s Day is always in the new year and is never moved earlier, even though the bank holiday for it can be moved to a later date, such as the 2nd or 3rd.
This is a boon for employees, who may get an extra day’s leave as a result of having both Good Friday off and an additional day in 2018/19. With frozen wages and a general downturn in production, maybe this is what we all need!
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