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Can we offer employees an option of taking off religious holidays instead of other bank holidays?

What the employer did:
In this case two potential options were considered. The first included the amalgamation of 'civil service holidays' such as the Queen's birthday into holiday enabling employees to use those days to take time off for their religious festivals. The second was to use a flexible approach to holidays, and allow people to swap with other colleagues by, for example, volunteering to work over Christmas to have time off at other times.

EFB Comment:

There is not yet universally agreed best practice, and employers continue to resolve holiday issues by a combination of options, including:

  • restricting adherence to contractual holidays;
  • having a formal policy which promotes flexibility while encouraging self management e.g. allowing to take annual leave, suggesting swaps with co-workers, etc
  • building a contract that accommodates the belief system and therefore the needs of the individual.