Queen's Platinum Jubilee holiday: Issues for employers

Author: Stephen Simpson

In 2022, the late May bank holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June and there is an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June, creating a four-day weekend to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. What does the long weekend of celebrations across the UK mean for employers?

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Queen's Platinum Jubilee holiday: Resources for employers

Buckingham Palace is coordinating a programme of celebrations for the Monarch's 70th anniversary on the throne. Events are taking place over the extended bank holiday weekend.

For some employers, the addition of an extra bank holiday causes confusion as to whether their workforce is entitled to take the day as leave.

Other potential challenges for employers include: deciding the rate of pay for staff who are required to work during the long weekend; staffing levels if they experience a high number of annual leave requests around this time; and potential absenteeism and unauthorised absence issues.

Checking wording of holiday clauses in contracts of employment

While the workforce may assume that they automatically have the right to take the extra bank holiday off work, there is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays as leave.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave, which equates to 28 days' paid annual leave for an employee who works a five-day week.

However, the Regulations do not specify on which days holidays must be taken and this entitlement can include bank holidays.

This means that any right to time off on bank holidays depends on the terms of the employee's contract of employment:

FAQs

Can employees be required to work on bank holidays?

Can an employer refuse holiday requests during a particular period?

Is an employee who is required to work on bank holidays entitled to extra pay?

Are employees who are required to work on bank holidays entitled to pay in lieu of time off, or additional holiday?

Can employees be required to take annual leave on bank holidays?

  • Contract entitles employees to take leave on all bank holidays: Some contracts of employment make it clear that the employee is entitled to take "all bank and public holidays" as leave. If this is the case, the employee does have the contractual right to take a day's leave in respect of the additional bank holiday.
  • Contract specifies entitlement to take leave on specific bank holidays: Some contracts of employment state that the employee is entitled to take all "usual" bank holidays as leave, or give a specific number of bank holidays (for example "eight bank holidays"). If this is the case, the employee does not have the contractual right to take a day's leave in respect of the additional bank holiday and the employer needs to consider whether to grant staff an additional day's leave.

For employees who are entitled to take the additional bank holiday off work, their contract of employment may provide that the day is taken from their annual leave entitlement:

  • 28 days' leave, including all bank and public holidays: If the contract of employment states that the employee has 28 days' leave, including "all bank and public holidays", they could be required to use a day from this 28-day entitlement.
  • 20 days' leave plus all bank and public holidays: If the contract of employment states that the employee is entitled to 20 days' leave "plus all bank and public holidays", the employee is entitled to benefit from an additional day off work on Friday 3 June without losing a day from their core 20 days' holiday.

Requiring staff to take a day's leave out of their holiday entitlement

What is the legal position if employees are required to take bank holidays from their annual leave entitlement and their employer wants them to take the additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June? (This could be the case if the employer wants to close the business for the day.)

In these circumstances, the employer can usually require that the employee take the day as annual leave. In the absence of a relevant agreement to the contrary, the employer must provide notice that is at least twice the length of the leave to be taken.

An extra day's leave as a goodwill gesture to staff?

Even if employees' contracts of employment do not give them the contractual right to paid time off on the additional bank holiday, as a gesture of goodwill the employer could:

  • provide them with the day off as an extra day's leave, if their presence at work is not essential; or
  • give them time off in lieu, if they are needed at work on that day.

Acknowledging the extra bank holiday in this way is good for employee morale and motivation. Employers that ignore the additional bank holiday may experience a negative reaction from their workforce.

Payment for working during the bank holiday weekend

Benchmarking

How are bank/public holidays dealt with at your organisation?

How are bank/public holidays dealt with at your organisation (if not given as paid leave)?

What pay and time off in lieu (TOIL) arrangements apply to bank holiday working at your organisation?

Employees have no statutory right to be paid an enhanced rate of pay for working on a bank holiday. The rate of pay for working on a bank holiday is determined by the employee's contract of employment:

  • If the employee's contract makes it clear that only the standard rate of pay applies to bank holiday working, this will extend to the additional day.
  • Where the employee's contract entitles them to a higher rate of pay if a bank holiday is worked, this entitlement will extend to the additional day unless the contract makes it clear that the higher rate applies only to the usual eight bank holiday days per year.

However, there is nothing to stop the employer and employee from agreeing other pay arrangements in advance of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, given the special circumstances.

Preparing for potential staffing issues

As a result of the extended weekend to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, the week beginning Monday 30 May consists of a three-day business week.

Employers should be alert to the need to ensure that business needs are met during this time.

Competing holiday requests

Employers should be prepared for an increase in holiday requests from employees who are looking to make maximum use of the long weekend. Given that schools are closed over the extended bank holiday period, there is likely to be a high demand for leave from employees with children.

Model letters

Holiday request form

Letter declining holiday request

Letter requiring employee to take holiday on specified dates

It is important that employers decide how they will deal with, and prioritise, competing leave requests in advance of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Employers should ensure that their approach to deciding leave requests is fair and consistent.

In particular, employers should refuse holiday requests only where there is a good business reason to do so.

Where employers do have to turn down holiday requests, for example because they would be left short-staffed, they can do so by giving counter notice. The counter notice must be at least equivalent to the number of days' leave that the employee has requested.

Line managers should always fully explain the reason for a holiday request refusal to the employee in a considerate way.

Unauthorised absence

An employer that is remaining open for business during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee period and has concerns about potential absenteeism could:

  • communicate clearly and in advance its rules regarding unauthorised absence; and
  • consider informing employees that their attendance will be monitored and they will be required to account for their absence.

This should act as a deterrent to employees who are scheduled to work on the day but who are considering taking unauthorised absence or reporting absence as sick leave when this is not genuine.

Employers should deal with unauthorised absence fairly and consistently, and investigate and address it through their disciplinary procedure.