Easter holidays could mean contract disputes for employers


21st January 2016

Tayside solicitors Miller Hendry are warning that employers could leave themselves open to employment contract disputes if they fail to take account of how the Easter holidays fall this year and next. 

Because Easter falls in March in 2016 and April in 2017, firms with holiday entitlements that stretch from April 1st to March 31st could be accused of short-changing employees over their statutory annual leave. 

Perthshire solicitor Miller Hendry is urging employers to check the wording of their employment contracts and address the calendar changes if they are to avoid any possible disputes with employees. Whether or not employers need to change employment contracts will depend on how their contracts are worded. Contracts with wording to the effect \"20 days\' holidaypluseight public holidays\" are a cause for concern, whereas contracts whichincludepublic holidays within the stated holiday entitlement are not.

Alan Matthew, partner and employment law expert at Miller Hendry, explained: 

\"This is largely a quirk of the calendar and how Easter falls differently every year, but it\'s a serious issue nevertheless. As a result of Easter being earlier this year, employees may have the opportunity to take two Easter holidays within one calendar holiday year, assuming the holiday year runs from 1stApril - 31stMarch. This is, of course, providing that their local area considers Easter Monday and Good Friday to be public holidays, which not all do.

\"Technically Employers have a few options if they want to avoid possible breach of contract with their workers. They can decide to let their staff take an extra one or two days\' leave within the 2016/17 year to make up for the \'missed\' Easter. Or they can negotiate new contracts so that, on paper, employees receive two days less in their 2016/17 holiday entitlement, bearing in mind it also must not fall below the 28-day statutory entitlement as a result. The simplest option may also be to consider permanently amending employment contracts so that holidays run from January to December or are worded to be inclusive of public holidays.\" 

Mr Matthew pointed out that since Easter fell in April in 2015, employees on a March-to-April holiday entitlement received two Easter holidays in one year.

\"That doesn\'t mean employers can simply assume that these days even out, however. Employers are still bound to a certain statutory leave, and to what a contract promises.\"

He added: 

\"Whatever option employers choose, they must be careful to seek the proper legal advice when reviewing or drawing up new employment contracts.\" 

For further advice or information on employment law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk  

Miller Hendry

Miller Hendry is one of the longest established and largest legal firms in Tayside. With 16 partners and 150 staff, through our offices in Dundee, Perth, Crieff, Comrie and Auchterarder we provide a wide range of legal expertise to our clients. As well as a sizeable Estate Agency and Property Services business we have specialists in Court, Private Client, Asset Management and Commercial work.

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