Helena Woodward-Vukcevic of Hart Brown, shares her expertise on the issue of time off, around the upcoming Bank Holidays.
Are employees entitled to be paid for the extra bank holiday on 5 June 2012 to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee and her 60 years on the throne? The only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897
Employers will have to check the wording of their employment contracts and associated policies. The day does not actually increase any entitlement to statutory holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
A contract which entitles employees to 20 days annual leave in addition to all statutory, bank and public holidays, would entitle employees to an extra day’s paid holiday. In which case, any new bank holiday such as the Diamond Jubilee must be honoured accordingly.
However, if the contract entitles employees to 28 days annual leave including all statutory, bank and public holidays, then employers may argue that employees are not entitled to the extra day’s paid holiday despite the UK Government having agreed to allocate an extra bank holiday as a nationwide celebration.
It is common for employers to offer double pay for employees working on bank holidays at workplaces which need to remain open for business on bank holidays. This can often act as an incentive for employees to work and allow employers to provide a skeleton service. However, there is no statutory entitlement to enhanced pay.
As well as the contract of employment, employers should also look at any custom and practice in the business, in particular how they managed last year’s additional bank holiday to celebrate the royal wedding.
Even where employees do not have a contractual entitlement to paid time off on the additional bank holiday, employers should consider providing this as a gesture of goodwill, or providing time off in lieu if an employee is required to work on that day. This can provide a huge boost in staff morale.
The government has been using additional bank holidays as a way of celebrating national events such as the jubilee and last year’s Royal Wedding. Ministers hope they will kick start a “feel good” summer which will be followed by the Olympic Games in the capital.