A right royal holiday clash

Holiday pay for the additional bank holiday on 6th May to celebrate the upcoming coronation is giving employers a headache before a toast has been raised to the new King.

The long weekend is intended to give the nation the chance to take part in community celebrations and public events, but by falling in the same month as two existing bank holidays in May, employers face a month of disruption.

And with there being no legal requirement for bank holidays to be given as additional paid leave, it’s creating grounds for potential discord between organisations and their staff over the royal date.  Employers are having to revisit employment contracts, whether staff are seeking the day off, or a business is choosing to close for the day.

“Holiday pay can be a minefield for employers, whether working out entitlement for part-year workers or deciding whether to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave, or offering the days as extras, on top,” explained employment law expert  Miss Amy Cusworth  of Rotherham town solicitors Oxley & Coward Solicitors LLP.

“Any entitlement to bank holidays will be subject to individual employment contracts, and there are many different ways they may be worded, just as long as the basic requirement for paid holiday is satisfied.”

Someone working a five-day week must be given 28 days of paid annual leave a year, the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.  For those working part-time or irregular hours, the calculation is made pro rata.

When it comes to the employment contract, some choose to include the bank holidays within the 28 days, and for others they may be offered on top.  But for this year’s additional public holiday, identifying whether or not workers are entitled to the day off as paid leave will depend on precisely how their contract is worded.

One example is where the contract covers for 20 days of paid leave “plus all public holidays” on top, adding up to 28 days in a usual year.  This year, it would give an automatic right to the extra day of paid leave on top.

If the contract said 28 days of holiday “including all public/bank holidays” again, staff are entitled to take the day off, but they would have to deduct it from their overall holiday allowance.

However, if the contract specified the usual number of bank holidays, as plus or including “eight public / bank holidays” then taking the additional coronation day would not be a contractual right for the worker, and subject to the usual process for holiday leave requests to the employer.

And it’s the flipside for those businesses who want to close for the day where staff may prefer to work.  Here, it may involve asking workers to take enforced leave, using up one of their days of holiday, or by offering an additional day of paid leave.

Name added: “A full review of holiday pay each year is a good idea, to be sure you are keeping up to date on curve balls like the coronation holiday and other case law that may affect calculations.”

“Meantime, if you need people to work on the coronation bank holiday, but they are entitled to take the day off according to their contract, then this would require a change to their employment contract, and they would have to give their consent for the change to be made.”

[This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues].

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