Diamonds are forever . . . or for 5 June at least!

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To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, there is an additional public holiday in England, Wales and Scotland scheduled for 5 June 2012. We take a look at the legal and practical implications of the extra holiday.

Check employment contracts

Many companies have already decided how they will deal with the Jubilee bank holiday. If you have not yet done so, remember that whether workers are entitled to the extra day will depend on the terms of their contract of employment, whether written down or established as a result of custom and practice.

Your workforce is not entitled to the extra bank holiday just because the Government has announced it.

For example, if your contracts states that an employee is entitled to ‘25 days’ holiday per year, pro rata, plus public and bank holidays’, they will be contractually entitled to the additional paid bank holiday in 2012. If, by contrast, your contract names the public holidays to which the employee is entitled, unless it actually specifies the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday (highly unlikely), employees will not be contractually entitled to that day as holiday. If the contract states that there is entitlement to ‘the eight recognised public holidays’ the implication is that the employee is not contractually entitled to what will be the ninth day.

But what do you want to do?

Of course, the Jubilee is a significant public occasion and you may be influenced by the potential impact on staff morale in deciding how to deal with it. You may choose either to give employees the extra day of holiday, unpaid leave or follow the stance you took in relation to the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday last year. Whatever you do, communicate this clearly to your employees well ahead of time and explain your rationale, particularly if you are not treating all parts of the workforce in the same way.

How does the Jubilee Bank Holiday interact with the Working Time Regulations?

The WTR entitle workers to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' holiday each year, pro-rata for part-time workers. This is equivalent to 28 days for a full-time five-day a week worker. If you give your workers the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday as an extra day’s holiday, this can count towards the minimum entitlement under the WTR.

Payment for working on the Jubilee Bank Holiday

Where you have a right to require an employee to work the Jubilee Bank Holiday, payment will be at the employee’s normal rate unless the contract provides otherwise. For example, if your contracts of employment specify that all public holidays are paid at one and a half times the normal rate of pay, then this is the rate you should pay.

What about part-time workers?

If you employ part-time workers, don’t forget that they have specific legal rights which mean that it is unlawful to them less favourably than comparable full-time workers, unless the treatment is objectively justified.

There is no clear guidance from the courts on what this means for bank holidays. Some employers grant part-timers a pro-rata entitlement to these holidays regardless of which days they are scheduled to work – this is the least risky option. Others only allow part-timers paid time off if the holiday in question falls on a day on which they would otherwise normally be at work.

The simplest approach will be to handle part timers’ entitlement to the Jubilee Bank Holiday in the same way as you do other bank holidays.

Impact on your operational needs

There will be a lot of public holidays occurring over a two month period, equivalent to a full working week for a full time employee who works Monday to Friday.

Good Friday6 April
Easter Monday9 April
First May Bank Holiday7 May
Spring Bank Holiday4 June
Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday5 June

This will, of course, have implications for your operational needs. Bear in mind that you may face requests from employees to tag some annual leave onto the bank holidays. which may impact on your work schedules. Is your current system for booking holidays suitable to manage this? You may need to manage expectations and remind employees now what rules will apply for deciding who can take what holiday (eg first come, first served) and that not everyone will be able to have their requests accepted.

Further questions?

Call your EEF adviser – we are here to help.

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Media Team 020 7654 1576

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