The hidden cost of the Royal wedding

  • Statutory position: Working Time Regulations entitle workers to 28 days’ paid leave each year, which may include public/bank holidays. It follows that entitlement to paid time off will not increase when an additional public holiday is granted as the total remains 28 days (5.6 weeks).
  • Contractual position: An employee’s contractual position may be different. For example, if a contract states an entitlement to 20 days’ paid leave per annum plus public/bank holidays, in 2011 an employee will be entitled to 29 days’ paid leave, ie: one extra day’s paid leave. However, if the contract states that they are entitled to 28 days per annum including any public or bank holidays, the entitlement will not increase for the additional public holiday.
  • Time off on a bank/public holiday: The timing of an employee’s holiday must be agreed by the employer, so if the company wants the individual to work on a public holiday, the employee can use their entitlement to leave for that day at another time.
  • Pay for working on a bank/public holiday: How an employee is paid for working on a bank holiday should be covered in the contract of employment; for example, whether there is an entitlement to any enhanced rates of pay.
  • Requests for time off: Publicity has been given to the timing of the additional day’s holiday in 2011 between Easter and May Day, which means that employees need only take three days’ annual leave to have an 11-day break. It is likely therefore that demand for time off over that period will be high.
  • The “water-cooler effect”: What will be the impact on morale if an employer insists (eg: for those with “including bank holidays” in their contracts) that staff take a day’s holiday from their annual entitlement or unpaid leave on the wedding day? Employers may happily give staff a paid day off regardless of their contracts but, in austere times, that won’t be an option affordable to all companies.
The best advice for employers is to be prepared. Check your contracts of employment and seek appropriate advice.

Jill Anderson is an HR professional at HR Director Solutions

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