Not all employees will be entitled to have an extra paid day off for the long Jubilee weekend, according to advice from a leading British law firm.
Leanne Raven, senior knowledge development lawyer at Stephenson Harwood, recommends that employers and staff check their contracts to see if the extra bank holiday applies to them.
The late May bank holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June this year, with the extra bank holiday added on Friday 3 June to create a four-day weekend.
However, Leanne pointed out that whether an employee is legally entitled to this extra bank holiday depends on the wording of their employment contract and their usual work patterns.
“If an employee’s contract says they are entitled to, for example 20 days plus bank holidays, they will be entitled to the additional platinum jubilee bank holiday.
“If an employee’s contract states that they are entitled to, for example 28 days of annual leave inclusive of bank holidays, it will be the employer’s choice whether to allow the extra bank holiday as it is not explicitly included under the contract.
“If the employment contract refers to ‘usual’ bank holidays, for example ‘you are entitled to 20 days’ holiday plus the usual bank holidays in England and Wales’, given the extra bank holiday isn’t a ‘usual’ bank holiday, the employee would not automatically be entitled to it, but the employer may decide to give it as an extra benefit.”
Leanne also pointed out that employees who are normally required to work on a bank holiday should not expect the day off. “If they usually receive a more generous ‘bank holiday rate’ for working on a bank holiday, they may expect this higher rate of pay.
“Employers will need to look carefully at the wording of the employment contract to see what the employees’ contractual legal entitlements are and decide how to proceed.”
She added that employers also needed to consider part-time workers. As with full-time staff, their entitlement to the bank holiday depends on the wording of their contract.
“If they are entitled to the additional bank holiday given the wording of their contract, but they do not work on a Friday, their holiday entitlement should be adjusted on a pro-rata basis to avoid claims for less favourable treatment of part-time workers.
“Employees on maternity leave continue to accrue annual leave in accordance with their contract.
“Therefore, when working out the accrued leave for those employees it will be important to look at the wording in their contract to determine their entitlement.”
She suggested that, as a guide, employers could consider what approach was adopted for the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding in 2011 and whether practices would be consistent.
“The fact that the extra bank holiday may have been given to employees even if they were not legally entitled to it, does not mean that legally the same approach needs to be adopted but it may be something long-serving employees raise or question,” she added.
Whatever is in employment contracts, Leanne concluded the employers should take into account employee morale. “Even if not legally entitled to it, will depriving employees of the extra bank holiday result in them being disgruntled?
“If an employer is offering this additional day even in circumstances where it is not legally required to do so, it may want to make it clear in messaging to its employees that they are receiving this extra benefit.
“On the back of the turbulence of the last two years, and in the midst of the ‘Great Resignation’, providing such an additional benefit may help boost employee morale, or at least not damage that morale.”