September 21, 2021

Are salon employees entitled to paid leave for bank holidays?

Are salon employees entitled to paid leave for bank holidays?

Most salon employees assume that they have the right to take bank holidays off work. As long as they request the time off well in advance, there’s no reason an employer can turn them down – right?

Every time a bank holiday comes around, most of us start thinking about short weekend breaks, BBQs, or at the very least, some peace and quiet. Salon workers are no exception.

Unfortunately, when bank holidays come around, many people use the extra day off work to book their favourite salon treatments. So it’s often the busiest time for salon owners, and they can’t really afford to lose staff.

If you’ve ever felt you’ve been held to ransom by your employees and wondered what your rights are, you’re not alone. Many salon owners puzzle over this every year.

So, can salon workers demand bank holidays?

In short, no. They can’t demand bank holidays, and this is why.

There is no statutory legal right to bank holidays in the UK, and this should be outlined in a worker’s contract when they start working for you. The wording of their contract will determine if they are entitled to paid time off during bank holidays.

It’s worth checking your employment contracts carefully as it’s common for these to change over the years. If you’re unsure of your obligations, always consult with an employment specialist.

What does the law say?

How much annual leave each member of staff is entitled to should be laid out in their employment contract. Everyone should have a contract, even if they only work part-time. Without a contract, neither side has any legal protection.

The law says that you must give workers 28 days holiday per year, for all staff members working five days a week. You will have to work out how many pro-rata days a worker is entitled to if they work for less than five days a week.

This minimum requirement can include bank holidays, but this is down to your preference. If you know you’ll be busy during bank holidays, you might not want to close the salon. 

But if you would rather be able to take advantage of the bank holidays like everyone else, you can include these days in your worker’s annual leave allocation.

How are contracts usually written?

While there isn’t a legal requirement to offer bank holidays as paid leave, you might have a contractual obligation to do so.

If your employment contracts state that workers get XX number of days AND bank or public holidays, then you have a legal obligation to offer paid leave. But if your contracts only say they are entitled to 28 days annual leave, with no mention of bank holidays, you don’t have to offer this as standard.

It’s not uncommon for a new team member to get a new contract to those who have been there longer, so always check the wording before handing it over.

Are workers entitled to extra pay on bank holidays?

Suppose you offer the option to take paid leave on bank holidays, or to work – are you entitled to offer double-time to those employees that choose to work?

There is no legal obligation to offer this unless it is included in the employment contract. Companies that offer additional pay for working during bank holidays do this to motivate their workers. But remember that people aren’t always motivated by money. 

If you know you need workers on a bank holiday, you may need to pay extra for them to show up. But you could also offer them a day off in lieu elsewhere in the calendar.

How can salon owners manage bank holidays?

The good news about bank holidays is that we know when they land every year. You have the opportunity to plan ahead and make sure you have enough cover for your salon.

Check your employment contracts to find out your contractual obligations to your employees. Then, start a conversation about what works for everyone. Some people won’t mind working, as they know they’ll be busy and could end up with extra tips (and double pay, if this is your policy). However, some people are more motivated by the prospect of time off.

The most important thing is to be consistent and fair with the rules. If you’ve noticed that different members of the team have signed different contracts, make sure you get everyone on the same contract as quickly as possible.

What if there is a dispute?

If you find you are clashing with staff over bank holidays, it might be better to compromise rather than risk a revolt. There would be nothing worse for your business than multiple members of staff suddenly falling sick on a bank holidays weekend.

You could offer staff paid time off elsewhere in the calendar in exchange for working bank holidays. Or you could offer time and a half. If this is a successful scheme, consider working this into your contracts.

More time off improves motivation

Salons typically employ a younger crowd, and research has shown that younger people are more concerned with work and life balance than anything else. Money might be a short-term motivator, but they will stick around for the bigger benefits.

According to Glassdoor, around 79% of employees would prefer additional benefits (like more paid annual leave) over a pay rise. Keep this in mind if you are trying to enforce a contractual obligation for your employees to work on a bank holiday.

If you want to build a team of motivated and talented stylists, then you need to think about what will enrich their lives and make them want to stick around for the long term.

Your staff might not have a statutory right to take time off during bank holidays, but think about what it could do for staff morale if they know they can enjoy bank holidays with their friends and family. 

Salon workers typically work unsociable hours, often staying late into the evening to accommodate evening bookings. By offering bank holidays as part of your employment contract, you could help to build loyalty and dedication within your team.

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