What happens to my bank holidays while I am on maternity leave?

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Understanding what happens to your bank holidays while you are on maternity leave is another important part of the money jigsaw puzzle.

Even though you can’t receive any payment for them until maternity leave is officially over, they are still important to include in your maternity leave budget.

Let’s have a quick recap on maternity leave

Maternity leave is the legally protected time that a woman is allowed away from work following the birth of her baby. Entitlement to maternity leave is from day one of being employed. There are no qualifying criteria, other than one day of employment.

Maternity leave is not the same as maternity pay and just because you qualify for maternity leave, there is no automatic entitlement to maternity pay.

What are bank holidays?

In the UK, someone who works full time is entitled to 28 days of paid holiday per year.

The 28 days might include bank holidays, depending on your employer.  In some companies, they will provide bank holidays in addition to this.  (A bit like employers who pay enhanced maternity pay).

How many bank holidays am I entitled to?

The number of bank holidays you are entitled to receive depends on which country in the UK you live in.  The table below sets out the number of official bank holidays for 2022.

CountryNumber of official Bank Holidays for 2022
England & Wales9
Northern Ireland11

The next thing you should do is check your employment contract. What does it say about bank holidays? Are they included in your holiday entitlement or are they paid in addition to this?

What happens to my bank holidays during maternity leave?

Bank holidays are one of the entitlements you continue to accrue (or build up) while you are on maternity leave.

For example, if your employment contract states that your bank holidays are in addition to your holiday entitlement, then following a year of maternity leave, you would have nine additional days to take if you are in England.

However, if your employment contract states that your bank holidays are included in the 28 days of annual leave, your missed bank holidays would be included in this number.

Can I be paid for them?

Instead, any missed bank holidays can be paid to you or taken as additional leave once maternity leave is officially over.

Unfortunately, you can’t ask to be paid for your bank holidays while you are still on maternity leave. This would result in your maternity leave and maternity pay coming to an end.

Can I use bank holidays to extend my maternity leave?

Although they are not ‘taken’ during maternity leave, they are a great way to extend the amount of paid time you can have away from work. 

When combined with your accrued annual leave, you could be looking at an additional 5-6 weeks of paid leave you are owed before you return to work.

bank holidays and maternity leave

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