Employment Law & HR update 13/01/2012 – 2012 sees an additional public holiday on Tuesday 5th June to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Additionally, Spring Bank Holiday has been moved to Monday 4th June (it would normally be on Monday 28th May), to give a four day holiday for the Jubilee celebrations.
Whether employees are entitled to time off on the additional bank holiday will depend on what their contract of employment states. But an additional complication this year is the moving of the date of the Spring Bank Holiday. Here are answer some questions you might have about the bank holiday arrangements this year.
Q. What public holidays have been declared for this Spring?
A. The public holidays declared for Spring 2012 are:
- Friday 6th April – Good Friday
- Monday 9th April – Easter Monday
- Monday 7th May – Mayday
- Monday 4th June – Spring Bank Holiday
- Tuesday 5th June – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Holiday
Q. My employment contracts state that staff are entitled to “Spring Bank Holiday” off. This is normally the last Monday in May. Are employees entitled to insist on having the last Monday in May off instead of 4th June?
A. No. The law governing bank holidays in England and Wales allows the Queen, by Royal Proclamation, to move the date of many bank holidays, including Spring Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the date of the Spring Bank Holiday is always on a date declared by the Queen.
In both England and Wales and Scotland, the Queen has declared that Spring Bank Holiday shall fall on 4th June in 2012.
Q. Do I have to give staff additional time off on the extra Diamond Jubilee holiday on 5th June?
A. Not automatically – and many employers, especially those which operate on a 7 day week basis, will have no option but to keep staff working as usual.
The answer to whether staff are entitled to extra public holidays when they are declared can be found in employees’ contracts of employment. Where the contract of employment names specific public holidays – as most do – then employees have the right to take the named holidays off, but any additional time off for any extra public holidays will normally be at the discretion of the employer.
Where the employment contract simply refers to an entitlement to time off on “bank or public holidays”, or where the business traditionally closes on bank holidays, then employees would be able to say the additional bank holiday is recognised as paid time off work by implication.
Q. What if the contract does not mention public holidays?
A. Many businesses need staff to cover work 365 days a year, and so may not recognise bank holidays at all. Instead, they would allow staff to have their 5.6 weeks’ annual holiday by making holiday arrangements during the course of the year. In these cases, the declaration of additional, or changed dates for, bank holidays would have no effect. It does not increase the minimum annual holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations.
Q. Can I ask staff to take the extra day off from their normal holiday entitlement?
A. If your employees’ contracts of employment specify named bank holidays, then the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday will not be included and so you can require employees to work if your business remains open on 5th June.
If your business will remain open on the public holiday, you could tell staff that if they want the time off, then they should request holiday as usual through your holiday request procedures. This would be subject to your usual rules (such as “first come first served” and “the operational needs of the business”) and would be taken from their annual holiday entitlement.
If you feel you need to close the business on the additional public holiday, but will not be making payment for the additional holiday, you should notify all staff that they must take a day’s holiday from their entitlement on that day. You should do this in writing as soon as possible, but by law you must give employees at least two clear days’ notice of your requirement before each public holiday.
Q. But my employees tell me that other employers are giving workers an additional day off on 5th June. If I deny staff the time off, won’t it result in too much bad feeling?
A. For some businesses, especially small businesses, it will not be an easy decision whether to ask staff to take holiday from their entitlement or simply to take the line of least resistance and pay for the extra time off. However, in tight economic circumstances, paying an extra day’s holiday for no extra work might mean the difference between breaking even and making a loss – so you should not take the decision lightly.
If you granted an additional day’s holiday for the Royal Wedding in 2011, you might have set a precedent which implies you will grant an additional day’s holiday for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 as well.
If you don’t intend to give employees the extra time off, make sure you tell them and the reason why. Also ensure you make appropriate arrangements for employees who will want to take the Jubilee holiday from their own holiday entitlement.