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Diamond Jubilee Dilemma

Employers may want to be patriotic and celebrate the Diamond Jubilee but trading conditions are still very bleak and the prospect of losing a day’s trading is not one that they rejoice in.  Given last year saw an extra day for the Royal wedding and periodically discussions are had about introducing an October Bank Holiday, what can an employer do to minimise the cost of the government handing out “extra” days of holiday?

What may come as a surprise to some is that there is no statutory right to take Bank or Public holidays as leave.  So long as an employer meets its statutory requirements (currently 28 days per annum) this can (subject to their contracts of employment) include or exclude such days.

Consequently many employers are unaware that the extra Bank Holiday announced by the government is not necessarily one which they have to foot the bill for.  The answer lies in the drafting of their employment contract and specifically the clause relating to holidays.  Get out your contract of employment and look for the holiday clause.  It will generally fall into one of these three types.

  1. If your holiday clause refers to holiday entitlement “inclusive of Bank Holidays” then there is no extra day to be funded.  The employee has an entitlement to 28 days inclusive of bank holidays then their entitlement is to 28 days no matter if there are eight or nine Bank Holidays in the current holiday year.
  2. If the entitlement is specified as “20 days plus the usual Bank Holidays” then the extra one is not a “usual“ holiday and as such the employer is free to open for business on the day and require it’s employees to turn up for work.  In reality they may say that the office is closing but can require employees to take it from their annual entitlement.  Thus again they do not have to foot the bill for the government’s largesse.
  3. Lastly a contract that specifies “20 days plus Bank Holidays”.  Here the employer is bound to give the employee the extra day and foot the bill.

Employers should be aware that such a decision will not necessarily find favour with employees.  The issue is managing expectations and the sooner their employees know what is expected of them the better.

God save the Queen!

For more information on employment law issues, including employment contracts, contact Amanda Finn