Mon 28 Feb 2022

Is everyone entitled to the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday?

No - and employers may want to address any uncertainty about this now.

When the additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June was announced to celebrate the Queen's platinum jubilee most employees were, no doubt, delighted.  Whether you are a royalist or not, an extra holiday is always welcome.  By additionally moving the usual late May bank holiday to 2 June expectations will have been raised of an extra long weekend. 

However, many businesses will not want to give their employees this extra time off, particularly those  catering to tourism, hospitality or retail who may see an upturn in activity over the long weekend.  Employees meanwhile may attempt to use what they perceive to be "free" extra holiday entitlement by organising longer periods of leave around it. In fact, 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. 

Given the publicity surrounding the event and the expectation it is creating, employers should be clear with their employees whether they are going to get the time off or not.  If they are not, then it should be made clear that 2 and 3 June will be considered as normal working days.

The first stop 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.  However, 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. 

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 spring from either the terms of the contract, custom and practice or what may have been agreed verbally.   

Where employees do have a contractual entitlement to take all public holidays as holidays employers cannot insist that they work on a public holiday but they can seek their employees' agreement to do so in exchange for a day in lieu at another time.  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.

Confusion can also 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 3 June anyway.

Employers will want to avoid what is intended to be a national day of celebration becoming an employee relations disaster.  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 - and why - is recommended. 


As the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday has now passed, please see our updated article on the Bank Holiday for the coronation of King Charles III.

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