The late May bank holiday has been shifted to Thursday 2 June 2022 and an extra bank holiday has been declared on Friday 3 June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
This forms a special four-day weekend for many, but not for all. Whether an employee is entitled to this extra day off depends on the wording of their employment contract and their usual work patterns.
HR's holiday lowdown:
Who is entitled to the extra bank holiday?
This will depend on the employment contract and there are various different scenarios.
Scenario 1: If an employee’s contract says an employee is entitled to, for example 20 days plus bank holidays, they will be entitled to the additional Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
Scenario 2: If an employee’s contract states that they are entitled to, for example 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.
Scenario 3: If the employment contract refers to 'usual' bank holidays, for example 'you are 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.
What about employees who normally need to work on a bank holiday?
Such employees should not expect the day off. If they usually receive a more generous bank holiday rate for working on a bank holiday, they may expect this higher rate of pay. Employers will need to look carefully at the wording of the employment contract to determine legal entitlements.
What about part-time workers?
Part-time workers’ entitlement to the bank holiday depends on the wording of their contract. If they are entitled to the additional bank holiday but they do not work on a Friday, their holiday entitlement should be adjusted on a pro-rata basis to avoid claims for less favourable treatment of part-time workers.
How does it impact employees on maternity leave?
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.
What should employers do now?
Dig out their employment contracts to determine if employees are legally entitled to the extra bank holiday.
Consider what approach was adopted for the Royal Wedding bank holiday in 2011. 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 the same approach needs to be adopted but it may be something long-serving employees raise.
Take into account employee morale. Even if not legally entitled to it, will depriving employees of the extra bank holiday result in them being disgruntled? On the back of the turbulence of the last two years, and in the midst of the great resignation providing the additional benefit may help boost employee morale, or at least not damage that morale.
Kate Brearley is partner at Stephenson Harwood