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Employer’s perspective:
The Diamond Jubilee and the additional Bank Holiday

» Posted on: 19 April 2012

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Following last year’s Royal Wedding and the additional days’ bank holiday for Kate and Will, this year will see another “extra” bank holiday falling on Tuesday 5 June to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. While most will take pleasure in an extra day off work to toast the Queen sitting 60 years upon the throne, employers need to know where they stand from a legal perspective.

Are my employee’s entitled to the “extra” bank holiday?
In a nutshell, this will depend on what it says in an employee’s contract of employment.

If the contract is worded “x days’ holiday, inclusive of bank holidays” then the employee will not be entitled to take the extra day’s bank holiday on top of their annual leave entitlement. Instead, if they want to take a days’ leave on that date, and are able to do so, they will need to use a day out of their annual allowance. Similarly, if the contract specifies which bank holidays employees are entitled to in addition to their annual leave allowance, then they will not be entitled to this additional day under their contract.

If, on the other hand, the contract states that the employee is entitled to take bank holidays, (with no specified number) in addition to a set number of annual leave days, then they will be entitled to take the extra bank holiday in addition to their set days’ holiday for the year.

Employers should also consider workplace custom and whether employees ordinarily receive paid time off on public holidays. If they do, then employees may be entitled to take the additional day this year.

If my employees do work the Jubilee, am I obliged to give them additional pay?
There is no right for employees to be paid a higher rate of pay on public holidays unless this is provided in their contract of employment. As above, employers should also take into account any right which may be deemed to have become contractual through custom and practice, for example if employees have always been paid an enhanced rate of pay for working bank holidays.

If there is no contractual right to receive additional pay on bank holidays, and it is not usual practice, then employees will not be entitled to receive any extra remuneration for working the additional day this year.

Practical points
From a practical point of view, employers should aim to communicate the Company’s position and arrangements for the extra bank holiday to employees clearly and in good time. If it is going to be business as usual on Tuesday 5th June, then employees need to be aware of this so that those who wish top request annual leave can do so. Employees should be made aware that such requests will e dealt with in the same way as any usual holiday requests.

Even if employees are not obliged to receive the “extra” day off under their contracts, employers should consider the impact on morale and the impact of disgruntled employees on the business if there is no operational reason not to give the extra day off. This thought is somewhat particularly relevant in light of the fact that during the recession, many employment benefits which may have previously been more readily available, such as bonuses and generous pay rises, are much more difficult to come by.

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