HR · 15 December 2016

A small business guide to opening on a bank holiday

Opening on a bank holiday
By opening on a bank holiday, a small business can make gains over larger competition

With seven bank holidays yet to fall in 2018 and two over the Easter weekend it’s important for any small business owner to fully understand the rules and regulations around bank holiday trading.

[This article was originally published in December 2016, but has been updated to reflect 2018 policy]

Our run-down of the existing legislation will make sure you stay within the law and avoid any penalties, before we reveal the true value of opening on a bank holiday.

Remaining UK bank holidays in 2018

England and Wales

30 March Friday Good Friday
2 April Monday Easter Monday
7 May Monday Early May bank holiday
28 May Monday Spring bank holiday
27 August Monday Summer bank holiday
25 December Tuesday Christmas Day
26 December Wednesday Boxing Day


30 March Friday Good Friday
7 May Monday Early May bank holiday
28 May Monday Spring bank holiday
6 August Monday Summer bank holiday
30 November Friday St Andrew’s Day
25 December Tuesday Christmas Day
26 December Wednesday Boxing Day

Northern Ireland

Same as England and Wales plus Thursday 12 July (Battle of the Boyne).

The size of your premises

The government states that small shops in England and Wales have the right to open any day or hour? of the calendar year.

The definition of small shops, crucially, is premises up to and including 280 metres squared restrictions still apply even if a section is closed off.

If your company operates beyond the restrictions, it must stay closed on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, and is subject to Sunday trading laws for other bank holidays a maximum of six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm.

Regionalbank holiday structures

In England and Wales, eight bank holidays are given every year. Two additional days are allocated in Northern Ireland for St Patrick’s Day and Orangemen’s Day, leaving ten overall.

In Scotland, Easter Monday and the late-August bank holiday are not allocated, but three additional dates are given, leaving nine in total.

Payroll and working hours

Employers opening on a bank holiday should know that no special employment rights exist for staff coming into work normal contract terms will apply.

There are no obligations for an increased rate of pay, and there are no rights for employees to demand time off due to a bank holiday.

However, some employers might decide to offer higher pay rates, ‘such as pay-and-a-half, as an incentive for employees to work bank holidays. If this is specified in the employee’s contract, refusal to work would represent a breach of terms.

Part-time workers have the legal right to be treated no less favourably than full-time colleagues. But, giving full-time workers time off on a bank holiday and notpart-timers could be seen as unfair. To remove risk, some employers might give part-time employees a pro-rata bank holiday allowance, so their entitlement to annual leave reflects that of their full-time colleagues.




Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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