Thu 09 Feb 2023

Are employees entitled to the Coronation bank holiday?

Not necessarily, and employers may need to take action now to manage expectations.

In May there will be an extra bank holiday to celebrate the King's Coronation.  There may be a tendency for employees to assume they will get the day off and to start to make plans  In fact, the legal position is not quite so straight forward.

Who will get the coronation bank holiday?

Entitlement to bank holidays will be governed by the terms of the contract of employment as there is no statutory entitlement to have bank holidays off.  In the absence of anything in writing, rights relating to bank holidays may depend upon any custom and practice that has sprung up around them, or what has been agreed verbally.

What should employers do?

Step one for employers is to check what their contracts of employment say.  If the contract says the employee is entitled "to all bank and public holidays" then the extra day will require to be granted as additional leave.  In this scenario employers cannot insist that the employees work on a public holiday but they can seek their agreement to do so in exchange for a day in lieu at another time.

Many contracts will provide for a specified number of public holidays (without necessarily specifying particular dates) in addition to a specified annual leave entitlement, or, alternatively, public holidays will be specified as being included within the total annual leave entitlement.  In either of these cases, employees will be able to request time off, but the day off will be subtracted from their usual annual leave entitlement.  The employer is also under no obligation to grant any particular request for holidays (assuming they would allow the employee to take the leave at a different time during the holiday year) although they should only refuse any request on reasonable grounds.

Are employees entitled to extra pay for working the coronation bank holiday?

Whether an employee is entitled to public holidays or not, if they do work them there is no entitlement to extra pay unless there is a contractual right to it.  Again, that will flow from either the terms of the contract, custom and practice or what may have been agreed verbally.

What does the coronation bank holiday mean for part-time employees?

Confusion can arise regarding how part-time employees are dealt with, particularly where the public holiday already falls on one of their usual non-working days.  Employers need to ensure that part-time employees are not treated less favourably than full-time employees when it comes to annual leave entitlement.  That means, if the extra day off is being given, then employers should ensure that part-timers are getting, at least, the appropriately pro-rated amount of leave.  This may involve the part-time worker taking the additional leave on an alternative date if their usual working pattern means they will be off on 8 May anyway.

What if an employee refuses to come in to work?

Where an employee is not entitled to the day off but refuses to come into work then disciplinary action may be taken subject to the proper procedures being followed.

Making it run smoothly

Employers will want to avoid what is intended to be a national day of celebration becoming an HR headache.  Many will give the day off, irrespective of the legal entitlements, as a gesture of goodwill.  Where that is not possible, early and clear communication as to what the position is - particularly if the additional 2022 Jubilee Bank Holiday was given - is recommended.


You can also listen to our podcast on whether employees are entitled to the Coronation bank holiday.

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