It has been announced that there will be an extra bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. This will fall on Friday 3 June 2022 and, as the late May bank holiday has been shifted to Thursday 2 June 2022, thereby forming a special four-day weekend for many - but not for all! An employee’s legal entitlement to the extra bank holiday will depend on the wording of their employment contract and their usual work patterns.
What does the employment contract state?
- If an employee’s contract states 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, e.g. 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, e.g. “the employee is 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.
Employees who are normally required to work on a bank holiday should not expect the day off. If the employee usually receives a more generous “bank holiday rate” for working on a bank holiday, a higher rate of pay may be expected. 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.
Part-time workers will also need to be considered. The position is the same as previously stated, the bank holiday entitlement will depend on the wording of the contract. If the employee is entitled to the additional bank holiday given the wording of their contract, but does not work on a Friday the 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.
Next steps for employers:
- The wording of the employment contract should be closely examined to ascertain whether employees are legally entitled to the extra bank holiday. Specialist advice should be sought if unsure about the position.
- Consider what approach was adopted for the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding in 2011 and whether practices will 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.
- Employee morale should be considered. Even if not legally entitled to it, will depriving employees of the extra bank holiday result in disharmony? 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 providing such an additional benefit may help boost employee morale, or indeed not damage that morale.