The announcement that Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding is to be marked by an extra Bank Holiday on 29 April 2011 will be great news for many people – but it is likely to leave some employers confused about their position.
This article first appeared on the People Management website.
One of the main questions is whether employees have to be given the extra day off. In England and Wales there is no automatic right for an employee to have the day off on a bank holiday – whether they can have the day off or not will depend on their contract of employment. Lots of employers will be happy to give staff the day off with pay regardless of their contracts, but in these times of austerity that will not be an option all organisations can afford. In addition, some employers will have business reasons for needing staff to work on that day.
The statutory minimum holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 has increased over the past few years and currently stands at 5.6 weeks a year. For many full-time employees, this equates to 20 days plus the usual eight annual bank holidays, and many employers have adopted wording to reflect this in their written contracts of employment.
- So what will happen about 29 April 2011?
Well, the position may depend on the exact wording of a contract. If, for example, it says that the holiday entitlement is “23 days plus bank holidays” then the employer is likely to have to give the employee a day’s paid leave on 29 April. If, however, it says “28 days including bank holidays” then there will be no extra entitlement. The wording will vary from organisation to organisation. The position may also depend on whether your organisation plans to be open on the day.
Issues are particularly likely to occur where part-time employees have holiday entitlement rounded up to allow for their pro-rata bank holiday entitlement. As an example, full-time 5-day week employees might get 20 days plus eight bank holidays at an organisation, while 3-day week employees get the pro-rata equivalent – 16.8 days inclusive of their bank holiday entitlement. This is fairly common and it means that where a bank holiday falls on a day when part-timers would normally be at work, they have to use some of their rounded-up entitlement to take the time off.
The problem is that because these arrangements include bank holidays, there will be no extra entitlement on 29 April, whereas full-time staff are generally more likely to have an arrangement where bank holidays are on top. Employers might find that part-time staff complain they are being treated less favourably, in which case the employer will have to consider offering more leave in order to avoid claims.
Some people have suggested that the Government might come under pressure to increase the minimum entitlement under the Working Time Regulations to 29 days just for 2011. We think this is very unlikely – not least because not all employees get time off for Bank Holidays and employers operate hundreds of different holiday years.
- What about pay?
Employers will also be keen to know where they stand in relation to paying staff who do work on the extra bank holiday. As with any bank holiday, an employee’s pay for the day will depend on the wording of their contract, as there is no statutory right to additional pay or time off in lieu. Many organisations do however have agreed rates for working on bank holidays, such as double time, and these should be applied as normal.
The best advice for employers is to be prepared – check your contracts of employment and take advice as appropriate. Some businesses may be happy to let everyone have the day off, but in these times of austerity some will prefer to keep people working if they can.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected])