02 December 2010 #Employment
If you hadn`t already heard, Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, which has been declared a bank holiday in celebration.
The timing of this extra bank holiday, sandwiched between Easter weekend and the May Day bank holiday, means there will only be three working days between 22 April and 2 May 2011.
David Cameron has reportedly welcomed the announcement of the extra bank holiday as a "happy and momentous occasion". It might not, however, be such a happy occasion for the thousands of struggling small businesses who are questioning whether they can afford to give their employees the extra bank holiday.
Whereas the Royal family and the Middletons will bear the cost of the wedding, the reception and the honeymoon, and any associated costs (such as security, policing and cleaning streets) will be picked up by the taxpayer, the cost of the extra bank holiday will be born, in the main, by private business.
It may be some comfort to employers, therefore, to know that employees do not have a statutory right to take off bank holidays. Whether or not they are entitled to take off bank holidays depends on the terms of their employment contracts. An employee with the minimum statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days, who wants to take paid leave on the extra bank holiday on 29 April 2011, will need to have sufficient leave remaining within his 28 days` statutory entitlement and, depending on the terms of his contract, also have his employer`s permission to take leave on that particular day. On the other hand, where an employee`s contract of employment provides for paid leave on bank holidays in addition to the 28 days` statutory entitlement, and does not limit this entitlement to the normal eight bank holidays per year (nine in Scotland), the employer will have to allow the employee to take off the extra bank holiday (or, depending on the terms of the employee`s contract, allow him to take time off in lieu on another day).
In any event, employers should be comforted to know that there is also no statutory right to extra pay (for example, time and a half or double time) when an employee works on a bank holiday. Again, any right to extra pay depends on the terms of the employee`s contract of employment.
However, regardless of statutory or contractual entitlement, employers may want to consider the effect on morale if their employees are forced to work on the extra bank holiday. The TUC has reportedly commented that forcing employees to work on the bank holiday will generate huge resentment directed at employers. In addition, given the excessive cost to the UK economy of work-related stress, it may also make economic sense to give people working excessive hours an extra day off to celebrate the Royal Wedding!