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Yorkshire employees can soon bank on a proper holiday entitlement, says legal expert

Bank Holiday employment law


Up to 120,000 workers in Yorkshire could be about to enjoy one of the last August bank holidays they will have to take from their annual leave entitlement, one of the regions top legal experts has said.

Matthew Brain, a partner and employment law expert at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, based at its offices in Queen Street, Leeds, has welcomed the governments moves to close the legal loophole allowing Yorkshire bosses to count bank holidays as part of employees statutory 20 days leave.

The government also proposes to increase the overall statutory holiday entitlement to 24 days from October 2007. It is now consulting on how the total should be increased to 28 from 2009, in one stage or two.

Employment law expert

Mr Brain said: The governments decision to update the legislation is fantastic news, as thousands of employees will now get the right to take paid leave for the eight bank holiday days each year, in addition to their four weeks annual holiday.

Once in effect, employers who fail to provide staff with their new holiday entitlement could be challenged in an employment tribunal.

Mr Brain said: Its a great step, bringing us further into line with many other European countries where workers have more bank holidays in addition to their annual leave entitlement.

English bank holidays

Britain and the Netherlands have the lowest public holidays in the EU, with only eight compared to Italy's 12, Austria's 13, and Spain and Portugal's 14. The UK is also bottom of the league when it comes to annual leave and bank holidays combined, falling 13 days behind the European average.

The changes stand to benefit two million people across the UK, mainly those in very low-paid positions, women, ethnic minorities and part-time workers.

Mr Brain said: Many businesses already offer more paid holiday than the statutory four weeks, recognising it can help keep staff motivated and loyal to the company.

UK workers have the shortest holidays and the lowest productivity in Northern Europe. Paid holiday leave is essential to allow people a proper work-life balance and maintain a fresh and productive workforce.