Part-time workers and discretionary holidays

12 Jan 2012

Over the Christmas and New Year periods, many employers closed early on Christmas eve or New Year's eve, essentially giving the employees who were working those days extra "free" holiday.

However, what happens to part-time workers who are not working on these days?  Similarly, what happens to part-time workers who work Tuesday to Friday and therefore miss out on all those Bank Holiday Mondays throughout the year?  On first glance, it would appear that the part-time workers are being disadvantaged because of their part-time status as they are less likely to be working on the day when an extra holiday is given or on a Bank Holiday than their full-time colleagues. 

This has been considered by the Courts which have found that, whilst part-time workers may miss out on Bank Holidays or additional discretionary holidays given by an employer on special days, this is not due to their part-time status: it is due to the days that they work.  The Courts' rationale for this is that a full-time employee working 48 hours per week Tuesday to Friday would also miss out on all of the Bank Holiday Mondays.

The upshot of this is that employers can give extra discretionary holidays to all those working on a particular day without having to give the same extra holiday to those who were unfortunate enough not to be expected to be at work that day anyway.