VE Day and Tips on Bank Holiday Entitlement

In 2020 only, the 75th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) will become a bank holiday instead of the usual early May bank holiday. This will enable as many people as possible to take time to celebrate the end of World War Two and to honour and remember the many heroes and sacrifices that were made.

The date change means that the early May Bank Holiday, usually held on the first Monday of May has been moved this year to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on the day itself. Therefore, across the UK the Bank Holiday will fall on Friday 8th May 2020 instead of Monday 4th May.

It is only the second time in UK history that the early May Bank Holiday has been moved. The previous time was to mark VE Day 50th anniversary in 1995.

Holiday Entitlement and Bank Holidays

The law states that employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday per year. For full time employees this equates to 28 days holiday per year inclusive of the usual 8 Bank Holidays that fall throughout the calendar year.

How Bank Holidays are managed within each organisation will be determined by the wording of the employee’s contract in the first instance. For example the contract may state holiday entitlement as 20 days plus the 8 Bank Holidays (and may go even further to state on which days they usually fall) or the contract may state 28 days holiday (inclusive of Bank Holiday entitlement) to be taken at any point in the year. For the latter, the change in date this year will not have any impact on a full time employee’s working week as they would likely attend work as normal and take the time off at another point in the year as time off in lieu for the Bank Holiday.

Where specific dates are stated in the contract, organisations should discuss this change as early as possible to ensure they do not find themselves in a situation where employees are contractually entitled to a day off on the 4th May and available to work on Friday 8th May. In this case, employees can be consulted with to change the date of the Bank Holiday for this year only.

If the contract does not specify when holiday is to be taken, then management must consider custom and practice when deciding how to manage the Bank Holiday and process holiday requests. This ensures that the organisation acts consistently with what they have done in previous years. For example, the business may close completely, or they may need full staff or skeleton staff, depending on what the organisation does. Organisations in the Care or hospitality sectors would require business as usual in terms of staffing, whereas a 9-5 office role or factory production line may be more likely to close their doors.

If the organisation is able to allow some staff (but not all) time off on a Bank Holiday then a fair, transparent and consistent approach should be adopted to ensure equal treatment to staff either throughout the year or based on previous years to avoid any discrimination or disgruntled employees.

Where staff are required to book time off for Bank Holidays employees should do this in the usual way, which could be via online or paper request to their line manager. Management must then assess the requirements of the organisation eg workload, workforce planning etc to either accept or decline the request. If declining the request, it is best practice to provide an explanation of why to avoid disappointment and demotivating the employee.

Legal Implications of Bank Holidays

Whilst the majority of organisations give Bank Holidays on the day they fall, there is no legal entitlement or statutory right for employees to take the time off on that particular day. However, it is stated in the Working Time Regulations 1998 that the employee is entitled to the equivalent time off another point in the year. In this situation the time is added to the employees’ overall holiday entitlement for that holiday year.

Staff who are required to work Bank Holidays are not entitled to any additional pay over and above their normal rate of pay.

Practical Implications

For full time staff working Monday to Friday this change in date will not create too much disruption. However, time should be given to look into part time employees holiday entitlement and their working patterns as this change in date could affect their overall annual entitlement.

Part time employees are entitled to a pro rata amount of time for Bank Holidays equal to a full-time employee. Therefore, for a part time employee whose contractual working day is a Monday, they will see an ‘increase’ in their overall entitlement to allow for them having to work on Monday 4th May. Whereas a part time employee who has Friday as a contractual working day will see a ‘decrease’ in overall holiday entitlement to allow for their time off on Friday 8th May.

Holiday entitlement for staff who work different hours on different days of the week should also be re-calculated to take account of the change. Remember to communicate all changes to staff in good time to ensure harmonious employee relations.

Next Steps to put this change into action

Organisations who choose to honour Bank Holidays on the days they fall will simply need to inform their workforce on which days the Bank Holidays fall throughout the year. The change to the date for the early May Bank Holiday is particularly important to ensure that all employees plan to attend work on Monday 4th May.

Early communication of the change in date is advised to ensure that staff can make any necessary arrangements. Other services such as schools, childcare settings or public transport may be affected therefore if you require your staff to work on Friday 8th May they will need sufficient time to make other arrangements.

Whilst public events are yet to be announced, people may want to celebrate with friends, family or neighbours by holding street parties or events in villages, towns and cities so staff may want to arrange their time off to help organise and attend such events.

Staff may have also made plans in advance for Monday 4th May before the change to the date was announced therefore these should be discussed in a pro-active way to explore suitable solutions to any potential issues that may arise.

It is advisable that organisations update their holiday calendars whether this be an online booking system where dates are already input (you may need to liaise with your system provider to ensure a mass update) or spreadsheet, paper records or wall planner.

2020 Bank Holidays

Upcoming bank holidays for England and Wales for the remainder of 2020 are:

  • Friday      10 April – Good Friday
  • Monday   13 April – Easter Monday
  • Friday      8 May – Early May (VE Day)
  • Monday   25 May – Spring
  • Monday   31 August – Summer
  • Friday      25 December – Christmas Day
  • Monday   28 December (in lieu of 26 December) – Boxing Day

The Government provides an up to date list of the Bank Holidays in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Further HR Guidance

Watch the free HR webinar, ‘VE Day and Tips on Bank Holiday Entitlement’.  You can watch the webinar on demand and at your convenience.

Get support, or further information, in relation to any HR related matter by contacting HR Solutions on telephone number 0844 324 5840 or visiting

This article was first published on 14 February 2020 and re-published on 4 May 2020




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