The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Bank Holidays

3 mins

Posted on 08 Feb 2012

It is 60 years this month since the Queen’s accession to the throne. Official celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee will take place in June with an extra bank holiday scheduled for Tuesday 5 June and the late May bank holiday moved to Monday 4 June.

Many employers will be considering whether they have to give time off when the Government declares additional bank holidays and, if so, whether they have to pay employees.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 entitle all employees (and workers) to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave. This equates to 28 days holiday each year for a full timer (with part timers having a pro rata entitlement). Although the 28 day entitlement is generally seen as 4 weeks (of 5 days) plus 8 bank holidays, the Regulations do not give employees the right to time off on bank holidays, but rather to time off as agreed with the employer.

This means that there is no one size fits all answer to the question of bank holiday entitlement. Each case will depend on what the contract of employment says.

For example, if a contract states that the employee is entitled to 20 days annual leave plus statutory, bank and public holidays, the employee should be given paid time off on 5 June. However, if the contract states that the employee is entitled to take named bank holidays or "the usual" bank holidays this is unlikely to give the employee the right to an additional day’s paid leave.

Similarly, if the contract gives 28 days annual leave either as a total or including bank holidays, the employee has no right to an additional days paid holiday – the additional bank holiday comes out of the overall entitlement.

The position for part timers can also be tricky. The safest option is for employers to pro-rate the overall bank holiday entitlement to reflect the number of hours or days worked in each leave year. Although some employment contracts provide that part timers are only entitled to paid time off for bank holidays which fall on their normal working days, this risks a claim that they have been treated less favourably on grounds of their part time status and so is generally not advisable.

Even if the contract does not entitle an employee to the additional day as paid holiday, employers need to be conscious of the impact on staff of any decisions they make. Disaffected staff can often cause difficult HR issues!

Louise Donaldson

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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