It sounds like the start of a terrible joke but be warned if you’ve not already spoken to your staff regarding the additional bank holiday, it might well be that humour of any kind may be in short supply.

Assumptions are always tricky devils in the workplace and not least when it comes to time off.  Typically, one sharp cookie has identified the announcement of the *Queen’s Jubilee and an additional bank holiday to mark the occasion and is circulating the good news via an informal works WhatsApp chat or Facebook group, immediately raising expectations of a long weekend, beer, barbecues and bunting.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated by an additional bank holiday, Friday 3rd June 2022, following the rescheduled late May bank holiday which will be Thursday 2nd June 2022.

The assumptive part of this is to leap to the conclusion that the phrase bank holiday always entitles the employee to time off.

The assumption may well be correct but only if the employment contract clearly states that they are entitled to a set number of days holiday, in addition to bank holidays.

The employment contract may reference bank holidays but they could form part of the total number of days granted i.e., 25 days annual holiday (to include statutory bank holidays). This is a very common method of covering holiday entitlements. If the employee did not wish to have the additional bank holiday reduce their freedom to choose dates to take off, they would need to discuss the option of “taking a day in lieu”. This would need to be at the discretion of the employer.  If that is an option be sure to emphasise that holiday requests will still need to be approved to ensure sufficient cover and that the additional Bank Holiday applies only to the current holiday year.

Another common phrase used in relation to holiday entitlement is “usual bank holidays” which may look like this; You are entitled to 25 days holiday inclusive of all usual bank holidays in England and Wales. If that is the wording within your employment contracts it would not automatically entitle staff to include the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee date of the 3rd of June, because it is not a typical or “usual” bank holiday.

The employer may work in a sector that could ill afford to lose staff at that time, perhaps a bar and restaurant, hotel or other venue reliant upon a full quota of staff.

An important point is not to overlook staff who may be on flexi or part time arrangements. If the holiday is granted to all staff they too should be included and not disadvantaged.  They will be entitled to time off proportionate to their working hours.

If staff are required it would be prudent to engage with those who would be required to negotiate their attendance before a public statement.

Not wanting to appear “Scrooge like” during a moment of national celebration the employer could take the view that holiday would be granted however ensure that staff are aware that it is an exception rather than a rule.

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