There are eight public holidays a year in England and Wales – but for companies which run their financial year from the start of April, the early Easter means only six will fall in 2016/17.
John Mehtam, employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said: “This is going to prove a problem for many employers – and it’s their staff who stand to benefit.
“It is very common for companies to offer 20 days of paid annual leave, plus bank holidays, as part of a standard contract. And this tallies with working time rules which dictate that employees who work a five-day week are entitled to a minimum of 28 days of leave per year.
“But the early 2016 Easter means that there is no Good Friday or Easter Monday in the 2016/17 financial year, so workers are two bank holidays short. If companies who run their years from April to April are going to honour their contractual obligations, it means they will have to honour an extra two days of paid holiday for their staff.”
Mr Mehtam said: “Companies cannot fall back on the argument that their staff received 10 days of bank holiday leave in the current financial year – it doesn’t work like that. In the eyes of the law, you can’t ‘store up’ holiday entitlement or claim that one year evens the other out.
“The 28-day statutory entitlement cannot be varied to take into account what may have happened in the previous 12 months.”
Mr Mehtam said any employer operating a financial year from April to April who failed to take into account the bank holiday anomaly could find themselves breaching their contract with staff.
“Employers will have to ensure they come up with a way of topping up their workforce’s holiday entitlement to ensure they are all receiving the statutory minimum 28 days, otherwise they could face some serious consequences.”