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Are Employees Entitled to the Extra Bank Holidays for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

Are Employees Entitled to the Extra Bank Holidays for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

On the 6th of February this year Her Majesty The Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service. It has been announced that this year there will be an extra bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

To celebrate, a four day UK bank holiday weekend was announced from Thursday 2nd of June to Sunday 5th of June. The spring bank holiday that usually takes place the last Monday of May has now been moved to Thursday 2nd of June with an extra bank holiday added to this on Friday the 3rd of June therefore creating the four day bank holiday.

For many this will be a time for celebration but we have seen an increase in queries relating to this extra holiday.  So let’s take a look at some of the common ones:

Is everyone entitled to the four day UK bank holiday?

Whether an employee is legally entitled to this additional bank holiday depends on the wording of their employment contract and their usual work patterns. There is no statutory entitlement to have bank holidays off.

Entitlement to the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday is governed by the employee’s contract and by the Working Time Regulations 1998. There is no overruling statutory obligation on an employer to allow their workforce time off just because a day has been nominated as a public holiday. Accordingly, employees are not necessarily entitled to the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday simply because the Government has announced it. If an employer wants employees to work, some employers may offer overtime pay or time off later however it really depends on what is contained in the contract of employment.

For some employers their contracts of employment will specify the particular bank holidays they observe.  Others may simply say they are entitled to all bank of public holidays without specifying the particular days or number which are observed.

What should employers do?

Employers should review their contracts of employment in order to look at employees contractual rights:

  • If the contract says that the employee is entitled to for example, ‘[X] days plus bank holidays’ without specifying what those days are then employees will be entitled to the extra day;
  • Alternatively, if the contract says for example, wording along the lines of that they are entitled to ‘28 days of annual leave inclusive of bank and public holidays’, then they will not be entitled to it as a matter of course (or we should say contract).  In this instance it will then be up to the employer to decide whether to allow the additional bank holiday as it’s not expressly stated in the contract.

In summary, an employee is not entitled to pay for public holidays or additional pay if it not included in the contract. Employers should also think about what they did previously whenever there has been an additional bank holiday, an employee may think it is implied in their contract that they are to be given it on this occasion or expect to be given the additional day off.

What happens if employees refuse to come into work when they are not entitled to the day off?

Under the circumstances where an employee is not entitled to the day off but refuses to come into work then disciplinary action may be taken subject to contract and the proper processes being followed.  What is more difficult is if they phone in sick on those days.  Given that employees can self-certify for the first 7 days of absence, unless there is clear evidence that the employee was not sick (e.g. from social media posts) then this is difficult to challenge.

If you are concerned that employees may take off the day in any case, think about whether you will allow them to use up one of their “free” days holiday.

Full-time v part-time employees

Employers need to ensure that part-time employees are not treated less favourably than full-time employees in terms of annual leave entitlement, unless that difference in treatment can be objectively justified.  In this case the previous holiday on the last day of May is being moved and an additional public holiday given.  Employers need to look out for, if the extra day off is being given to full time employees, that part-time employees do not lose out just because of their part-time status.  Often this is done by giving a part-time employee an equivalent pro rata entitlement if they will not otherwise benefit from the public holidays.

Overall, even though some employees will not be entitled to the day’s leave, and regardless of your views on the reasons for the celebrations, many employers may however decide to give the day anyway as a gesture of goodwill, given this is likely to be a once in a lifetime event for many, which will without a doubt be well received by employees if employers choose to do so.

For more information or assistance please contact Noele McClelland in Thorntons specialist Employment Law team on 03330 430350.

About the authors

Noele McClelland
Noele McClelland

Noele McClelland

Partner

Employment

Kiran Bahia
Kiran Bahia

Kiran Bahia

Trainee Solicitor

For more information, contact Noele McClelland or any member of the Employment team on +44 1382 346239.