The Working Time Directive provides for workers to have 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year which for most workers who work on a full time basis is the same as 20 days plus the eight bank holidays. Employers are entitled to provide their workers with a greater contractual entitlement to annual leave if they wish.
There is no automatic right to bank holidays and the equivalent eight days could be granted elsewhere in the annual leave year. Indeed, Bank Holidays are normal or key working days for many organisations who provide an all-year round service to clients or customers. Employers are always encouraged to refer to their contracts of employment for the specific regarding Bank Holiday arrangements.
It has been the case for some time that workers can continue to accrue annual leave during periods of sickness and can request to take their leave during a period of sickness absence as the Working Time Regulations prevents workers carrying annual leave forward to another holiday year. However, case law has strongly indicated that where a worker is prohibited from properly exercising their right to annual leave for the purpose of rest and relaxation which arguably they cannot do if they are unwell, they should be allowed to carry it forward to the next holiday year.
Also recently, employers have been expected to accommodate workers who wish to rearrange their holiday on occasions when they have fallen ill just prior to or during a period of annual leave and to carry that forward into the next holiday year depending on the timing of the period of sickness.