On Friday 3 June 2022, there will be an extra Bank Holiday granted to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. What’s more, the usual May Bank Holiday has been moved forward to Thursday 2 June 2022 resulting in a 4 day weekend for those able to take the time off. However, what will the additional Bank Holiday mean for some employers and their workers? Will some be required to work as usual? Peter Olszewski, Senior Associate reports on the employer’s options to avoid an HR headache.
A host of fantastic events have already been planned across the UK which will bring people together to join in the celebration of the Queen’s reign since 1952. The celebrations will provide a massive boost to the UK’s leisure and hospitality industry which is making a strong recovery following the coronavirus restrictions it has faced over the last 2 years.
But what are your employees’ rights when an additional Bank Holiday is announced?
The general rule is that employees do not have an automatic right to a day off work when this or any other Bank Holiday is announced. To determine if an employee is entitled to a day off work (and to be paid it), employers will need to review their contract of employment.
We should also add that holiday is a right afforded to both employees and workers – so be sure to check your working arrangements with your casual staff or workers. When we refer to “employees” this should include “workers” and vice versa.
Some contracts of employment will 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.
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 Jubilee day is not a “usual” Bank Holiday.
Also, under some contracts the employer might reserve the right for the employee or worker to work on a Bank Holiday for the same or more pay or allow time off in lieu.
Employers will need to review their employees' contracts of employment to see whether all of them, some of them or none of them are entitled to take the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday off of work.
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, if they will require employees to attend work or if they will give employees a day off in lieu of the Bank Holiday due to staffing requirements.
If staff wish to take the Friday as leave (where they are not automatically entitled), is there the staff to cover their absence? Have requests been handled fairly? Do holiday policies make clear that holiday is on a “first come, first served” basis and must be at the acceptance of the employer? Also, for those who have booked holiday before the Bank Holiday was announced (as the Jubilee coincides with the May school half term), have their holiday records been adjusted to take account of the additional day’s leave (if granted).
What about part 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 Thursday or a Friday 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 well. As above, check their contracts of employment and decide if they are eligible to the additional Bank Holiday. If they are then their entitlements will been to be adjusted.
Whilst it is important to comply with the letter of the contract of employment or work, one should not forget that the additional Bank Holiday can also be a morale booster for your staff. It may be that where the business allows, employers are able to grant the additional day’s holiday as a sign of good will – stressing of course the reason for it being allowed as a one-off gesture.
Whatever the business decides, early planning for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday is crucial. Employers should consult with employees on their plans for the day and to prepare accordingly, especially if employees are required to work and how this might affect their pay.
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.