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Shift Work and Bank Holidays

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My company has recently been taken over and there has been some contract rejuggling going on. My team work a 4 on 4 off (continental) shift pattern and have 18 days holiday a year. The new HR team have said that we are now entitled to have a bank holiday off in lieu if we work that day.

 

It soon occurred to us that this would mean some of us could end up with far more holidays than others based solely on how "lucky" we were with how our shifts fell. Further investigation led me to the DirectGov website where I read that after a change in the law in April 2009, everyone was entitled to 28 days off a year and based on our shift pattern we should receive 3.5 (average days worked a week based on 17 weeks) x 5.6 weeks (ie 28 days) = 19.6 days holiday.

 

I emailed my manager this link

 

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Timeoffandholidays/DG_10034642

 

and he has replied saying that he thinks the website is wrong.

 

My reading of this is that instead of us having the chance of a lieu day, we are all contractually entitled to 19.6 days a year, because otherwise the chance of unfair treatment exists - as well as someone remaining on 18 days receiving less than their legal minimum.

 

Is it also possible to confirm that regardless of the fact I signed a contract 3 years ago that stated 18 days holiday, I cannot be held to it when the law has changed? ie a contract cannot remove legally granted rights? We've also been told that regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely we will receive any backdated days as recompense. I really want to be sure of my facts before I make a nuisance of myself :eek:

 

I've asked several times for a copy of my contract but have been told this isn't currently possible. We are a smallish team within a company that has most of the workforce doing some variation of 9-6, Mon-Fri with 25 -28 days holiday PLUS bank holidays.

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My company has recently been taken over and there has been some contract rejuggling going on. My team work a 4 on 4 off (continental) shift pattern and have 18 days holiday a year. The new HR team have said that we are now entitled to have a bank holiday off in lieu if we work that day.

 

It soon occurred to us that this would mean some of us could end up with far more holidays than others based solely on how "lucky" we were with how our shifts fell. Further investigation led me to the DirectGov website where I read that after a change in the law in April 2009, everyone was entitled to 28 days off a year and based on our shift pattern we should receive 3.5 (average days worked a week based on 17 weeks) x 5.6 weeks (ie 28 days) = 19.6 days holiday.

 

I emailed my manager this link

 

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Timeoffandholidays/DG_10034642

 

and he has replied saying that he thinks the website is wrong.

 

No - the website is correct - Everybody is entitled to at least 5.6 weeks holiday a year based on a normal working week. This is easy enough to calculate for a Monday to Friday 40 hour a week worker whose work pattern never changes, but in your case it is more complicated. Due to you working a four on four off pattern, you will sometimes work more than four days in one week and sometimes less. The working hours therefore have to be averaged, and the measurement for that is to average the time worked per week over 17 weeks, which gives an average working week of 3.5 shifts per week. As the law says that you must have 5.6 'weeks' holiday, this gives an annual entitlement of 5.6 x 3.5 = 19.6 days (or shifts) holiday.

My reading of this is that instead of us having the chance of a lieu day, we are all contractually entitled to 19.6 days a year, because otherwise the chance of unfair treatment exists - as well as someone remaining on 18 days receiving less than their legal minimum.

 

Can't quite get my head around that one at the mo. I suppose that you are correct. If a worker is due to work on a bank holiday as a part of their normal pattern, then gets a day in lieu as well, then they are getting their normal 19.6 shifts plus a lieu shift, whereas somebody else whose shifts never fall on a BH will only ever get 19.6 shifts. If I recall correctly, my B-I-L works continental shifts and they get no additional entitlement.

Is it also possible to confirm that regardless of the fact I signed a contract 3 years ago that stated 18 days holiday, I cannot be held to it when the law has changed? ie a contract cannot remove legally granted rights? We've also been told that regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely we will receive any backdated days as recompense. I really want to be sure of my facts before I make a nuisance of myself :eek:

 

Correct - a contract can give you more than the legal minimum, but not less, and the contract (or company handbook) should have been updated when the law changed.

 

I've asked several times for a copy of my contract but have been told this isn't currently possible. We are a smallish team within a company that has most of the workforce doing some variation of 9-6, Mon-Fri with 25 -28 days holiday PLUS bank holidays.

 

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Thanks for the reply. I guess my first hurdle is persuading the company that we are all entitled to 19.6 days and not 18 as standard. We're a huge employer and it's rather easy to feel lost in the middle.

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Hello and welcome to CAG. I have a couple of thoughts for you. If it's a big company, have you involved the HR department? And are you saying you've never seen your contract or that you've mislaid it and asked for a duplicate copy please?

 

It might help you to have a chat with ACAS on their confidential helpline. I think they may be there Saturday mornings and the number's on their website. They should be able to talk this through with you and suggest what you might be able to do.

 

HB


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Thanks for the welcome. I'll be making a donation after this post as I feel many questions will be asked!

 

We were offered the chance to sign new contracts with the new company and most of the terms seemed less favourable. Because I wasn't sure how my contract had changed over the years (because of new legislation etc) I asked for a copy of it as it now stood in order to compare. I was told this wasn't currently available and then the closing date to sign the new contract ended.

 

The 18 days and a day off in lieu actually came from our new HR department initially - this is their interpretation of the new legislation as it relates to my team. ACAS agreed with me and suggest I write a formal letter outlining my position - I have to say this makes me feel somewhat anxious in an environment with redundancy and reshuffling going on.

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