In June 2022, the UK will celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with an extra bank holiday, making way for a long weekend of celebrations. However, when it comes to bank holidays in general, staff entitlement isn’t always straightforward. Here’s what you need to know.
In the UK, there is no legal right to having bank holidays off work. Legally, all employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year, even if they have a zero-hours or agency contract. However, as long as that’s provided, it doesn’t need to include bank holidays.
Legally, whether employees are entitled to the additional day as extra paid leave will depend on the wording of their contract.
If their contract states how many bank holidays they are entitled to or the total number of days, including bank holidays, then there is no obligation on employers to grant an extra day of leave. For example, the contract may state, “Your holiday entitlement is 20 days per year, plus eight bank holidays” or “Your holiday entitlement is 33 days per year, including bank holidays”.
The contract may also reference the “usual” UK bank holidays. However, as the extra day is not a “usual” bank holiday, this would also mean employers are not obliged to give an additional day of paid leave.
However, suppose the contract does not state the number of bank holidays. In that case, employers may be contractually required to grant employees an extra day. For example, if the contract states, “Your holiday entitlement is 25 days plus UK bank holidays”, then the extra day becomes a contractual entitlement.
Employees who usually get bank holidays off as paid leave are likely to view the additional bank holiday as an entitlement, regardless of the contractual position. The 2012 Diamond Jubilee was a national celebration with street parties and other events commemorating the occasion. It is likely to be the same for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022. In fact, with the extra bank holiday and the (hopefully) first summer of freedom since the pandemic, it may be even more so. Therefore, employers may decide that to keep their employees happy, they will grant the extra day regardless.
The last time we were gifted an extra bank holiday was in 2011 to celebrate the wedding of William and Kate. On that occasion, it was our experience that most employers chose to grant the extra day.
Assuming the contract gives employers a choice to decide, there are three options for you:
For employers who do grant the extra day, you will also need to consider how to manage exceptions, such as employees who are not scheduled to work on that day or employees who are required to work.
Examples of this are:
The legal position here is tricky. If the employer grants the extra day to those who are scheduled to work as a non-contractual “gift”, then there is no contractual right for employees covered under these exceptions to be given another day to make up for it.
However, part-time employees are legally protected from suffering a detriment due to their part-time status. Those who are off sick due to a disability or on maternity leave are also protected from discrimination. Therefore, employers may choose to grant the extra day to eliminate the risk of a claim. As mentioned earlier in the article, giving the extra day for your entire workforce is also in the best interests of keeping your employees happy and motivated. For example, for those who are required to work the day when some or all of their colleagues are given the extra day off, it is recommended that they are given a day in lieu to take at another time.
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