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This year Christmas Day was a Saturday and Boxing Day was a Sunday. New Year’s Day will be a Saturday. Most employers pay a premium, usually double time, to employees who work on these days. But how should you pay employees who work on the “substitute” Public Holidays, the Mondays and the Tuesday? If other Bank/Public holidays attract a premium should not these substitute days?

Your Employee Handbook should specify the Bank/Public Holidays that you recognise, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Ideally there will be a statement clarifying that any premium payments apply to the actual days, not to any substitute days.

Even if substitute days are not mentioned there may be reference to double time being paid on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and possibly to a premium on being paid (by implication) on other Bank/Public Holidays.

Incidentally, there is no specific statutory specification as to how Bank/Public Holidays should be paid or even, outside banking, whether they should be allowed for individual employees. They are usually simply part of the 5.6 weeks holidays entitlement and (whether taken or not) would attract normal pay.

The decision about what you actually pay is likely to rest on how you interpret the wording in your Employee Handbook (or written particulars of employment).

So long as pay on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day is clearly specified then, even if there is no mention of substitute Bank/Public Holidays, I suggest the substitute days can be paid safely at normal pay.

There is a small counter argument if you have suggested a premium for other Bank/Public Holidays. Nevertheless, I cannot see that being sustained as a valid argument if the main argument is reasonably clear.

If you have not specified how substitute days should be handled it may be worth making it clearer for the future. In 2011/12 Christmas Day and New Year’s Day will both be Sundays.