Meredith Hurst Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Will you be celebrating the royal wedding from your desk, in front of a computer screen or in the garden with a glass of Pimms? This is the question on many employees' lips as the second four day break approaches.
With the exception that it is a one off, the holiday granted to the nation to celebrate the forthcoming royal wedding is no different to any other public holiday. Additional days to the usual bank and public holidays such as the May bank holiday and Boxing Day may be proclaimed as bank holidays. The next one is likely to be the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year.
What is often misunderstood is that employees do not have the automatic right to take the day off. The working time regulations provide that that employees receive a minimum of 5.6 weeks (28 days) paid leave each year but contrary to common belief, there is no statutory right to paid leave on public or bank holidays.
Much can depend on the contract of employment. If public holidays are stated as being in addition to 20 days annual leave, the employer should pay the employee leave on public holidays without reducing his or her annual leave entitlement.
If the contract states that the holiday entitlement is inclusive of public holidays however, there is no automatic right to take the public holiday as paid leave. An employee would have to request the day off in the normal way and the employer could refuse this.
In practical terms of course withholding the extra day may leave an employer with a lot of resentment particularly when the royal wedding is seen as a day of celebration. Of course not all businesses can afford to release staff particularly those in industries that are demand or output driven. If it is necessary to require employees to work on the day of the wedding, then employers might consider offering a day off in lieu at another time. Either that or a bottle of Pimms as a sweetener?