The UK is in for a treat in June 2022: an extra bank holiday is confirmed to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The second May bank holiday will be pushed back to Thursday 2 June, and the bonus bank holiday will follow on the Friday. Tracey Hudson from The HR Dept advises businesses on how this extra holiday fits into their existing annual leave.
Tracey Hudson begins: “It’s rare that we are granted an extra bank holiday, and because of that, some employers will be in unchartered waters when it comes to processing that holiday time. Must they permit staff the extra time off? How should part-time staff be treated? What if you need your staff to work on bank holidays?
“The answers can normally be found in your employment contracts. In the UK, there’s no automatic right to paid time off for a bank holiday, or indeed enhanced pay if they must work.
“If your employment contracts describe the annual leave entitlement as a set number of days plus bank holidays, then contractually your staff are entitled to the extra day off. However, if the contract just states a total number of days off, or specifically enumerates eight bank holidays then they are not.
That said, if it suits your business, you may be prepared to just give them the extra time off in the spirit of the celebrations. If you don’t, you may have a disgruntled team on your hands.
Some employers will face slightly more complex issues. Nevertheless, well-worded contracts will still normally guide you.
For example, if your business operates on bank holidays and you need the staff, you can write your contracts to reflect this. You’d grant at least the 28 minimum days off, but state that this does not include bank holidays and they are required to work on these days. Then if they want to take a bank holiday off, they can put in a request which can be accepted or denied as you wish. Conversely, you could also word your contract to insist that bank holidays are taken as holiday.
Be careful with part-time employees. They have the right to not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker so are entitled to a pro-rata-ed allowance of paid bank-holidays, regardless of whether they work on the days where bank holidays fall.
“If your current contract wording does not suit your plans, don’t forget that you cannot unilaterally change it without your employees’ agreement. You can, however, create a new contract for new employees who had not agreed to the old terms. If you want to change existing contract wording, seek professional advice.
As an aside, finally, watch out for a potential rush of employees booking three days leave ahead of this double bank holiday as it will lead to them enjoying a nine-day break for the price of three. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, but make sure you manage holiday requests fairly, and so that you are not short staffed.