On Monday 8 May 2023 there will be an extra Bank Holiday granted to celebrate the King’s Coronation. What will the additional Bank Holiday mean for Employers? Can it require its employees to work as usual or will their employees be entitled to an additional day of paid holiday?
Jessica Clough, Chartered Executive, reports on the employer’s options to avoid an HR headache.
Holiday is a right afforded to both employees and workers (including casual staff). When referring to “employees” in this article, this includes “workers” and vice versa.
The general rule is that employees do not have an automatic right to a paid day off work when this or any other special Bank Holiday is announced.
To determine if an employee is entitled to a paid day off work, employers will need to review their contract of employment.
Many contracts of employment state that the employee is entitled to a certain number of days annual leave, “plus bank holidays”. In this case they will be entitled to the additional Bank Holiday off work as an additional day of paid holiday.
Other contracts of employment state that the employee is entitled to a set number of days annual leave, but do not mention Bank Holidays. In this scenario, the employee will not be automatically entitled to the additional Bank Holiday off work.
Some employment contracts provide the employee with a set number of days annual leave, “plus eight Bank Holidays”. Again, this will mean that the employee is not automatically entitled to the additional Bank Holiday off work.
If instead the contract states: “you are entitled to XX days holiday plus the usual bank holidays in England and Wales”, again this would not give the worker an automatic right to the additional Bank Holiday because the addition Coronation day is not a “usual” Bank Holiday.
Additionally, some contracts provide that the employer can reserve the right for the employee to work on a Bank Holiday (for the same or more pay), or in return for time off in lieu. Where this is the case, the employer can require the employee to work the Coronation Bank Holiday but (depending on the wording of their contracts) may need to allow them to take this additional day in lieu at another time.
What are the options for employers?
Where employees do not have a contractual right to the additional Bank Holiday, employers will need to consider if they:
Wish to grant the day’s leave as a gesture of good will; or
Will require the employee to work that day but give them a day off in lieu of the Bank Holiday at another time; or
Will require employees to attend work as usual.
If the Employer decides to give its employees the day off as a gesture of good will, this will usually be given as a paid day off on the basis that the employer is choosing to request its employees not to attend work.
If employees are not contractually entitled to the Coronation Day as holiday but they still wish to use a day of holiday to take the day off, employers should check there are sufficient staff working to cover their absence. The employer should handle leave requests fairly and in accordance with any holiday policies in place, for example, making it clear that holiday is on a “first come, first served” basis and must be approved by the employer.
For employees who had booked that day off as holiday before the Bank Holiday was announced, the Employer should make sure their holiday records have been adjusted to take account of the additional Bank Holiday so they are not placed at a detriment, particularly if they are allowing the rest of their staff the day off as a gesture of good will.
What about part time employees?
As with full time employees, employers should again check their contracts of employment to see what is included with regards to Bank Holidays.
If, for example, the employee IS entitled to additional bank holidays, but they do not work a Monday their holiday entitlement will need to be adjusted on a pro-rata basis to avoid any suggestion that the part-time employee has been treated less favourably.
What about those on family leave?
For those who are on family leave (for example maternity leave), their holiday including eligible Bank Holidays will continue to accrue. As above, check their contracts of employment and decide if they are eligible to the additional Bank Holiday. If they are, then their holiday entitlements will need to be adjusted to allow for an additional day of holiday in respect of the Coronation Bank Holiday.
Whilst it is important to comply with the letter of the contract of employment, one should not forget the morale booster that the additional Bank Holiday can have for your staff.
Although some workforces may not be contractually entitled to the additional Bank Holiday, it may be beneficial (where the business allows) for employers to grant the Coronation day off as a sign of good will – stressing of course the reason for it being allowed as a one-off gesture.
Whatever the business decides, clear communication with staff is crucial, especially if employees will be required to work that day.
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Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.