Settlement Agreements and public holidays.

Everybody loves a public holiday, a chance to do DIY or just have a lie in, but are you entitled to rely on these days as a time to be off work? This can often be a bone of contention between employer and employee so it is important that you understand your rights in case a dispute arises between you and your employer.

Settlement agreements are often used to settle claims for holiday pay particularly when the dispute goes back a number of years.

Annual leave in the UK is dictated by the Working Time Regulations 1998 which state that employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid leave each year. This was increased from 4.8 weeks in October 2007 which equates to 8 extra days each year. This is the usual number of public holidays (which includes Bank Holidays and traditional days of holiday such as Good Friday). The increase from 4.8 to 5.6 weeks was meant to account for the fact that there is no statutory right to have public holidays off work. Many employers had been counting the 8 public holidays as included in the 4.8 week entitlement.

As there is no right to have public holidays off work under the Working Time Regulations 1998, whether an employee can or cannot have the day off work is largely dictated by what their contract of employment says about the matter. If the contract is silent on the issue of time off for public holidays, it will often be a case of looking at any verbal agreements or past custom and practice. Of course there are many industries in which requiring employees to work on public holidays is essential. These include the leisure, retail and hospitality industries.

Some employers may allow for employees to have paid leave on public holidays as well as their 5.6 week entitlement under the Working Time Regulations.

If you are not being allowed to take your full entitlement and/or you have been offered a Settlement Agreement in relation to a holiday pay dispute please contact us for free initial advice.

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