Do I have to give my employees the day off for the extra bank holiday?

27 May 2022

Many of us will be enjoying an extra bank holiday day off on Friday, 3 June, to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. The end of May bank holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June so that people can enjoy a four-day weekend. But is everyone entitled to the day off? It depends on your employee contract.

Queenie Hero

Whether an employee is legally allowed to have the 3 June, Platinum Jubilee bank holiday off depends on the wording of their contract. Here are a few scenarios:

  • If, for example, an employee's contract says they're entitled to paid leave for "all bank and public holidays", they're allowed a day off as paid holiday. The same goes for if it says something like "25 days off plus bank holidays".

  • You're not automatically obliged to give an employee the day off if their contract states that they'll have the "usual" bank holidays off as paid leave. The Platinum Jubilee bank holiday isn't classed "usual". You might consider granting it as a discretionary benefit, though.  

  • If the contract says, for instance, that the employee is entitled to "25 days of annual leave inclusive of bank holidays", it'll be up to you to decide as it's not explicitly stated in the wording of the contract. 

You might decide to give your employees the extra day off even if their contract doesn't automatically entitle them to it, as a gesture of goodwill. Alternatively, if your employees do have to work that day, you could allow them to take some time off in lieu.  

Employees typically required to work on bank holidays shouldn't expect to take the day off. However, they might be contractually entitled to a higher "bank holiday rate" of pay for working on the 2nd. Again, the details will be in your employment contract. 

Factor part-time workers into the equation, so it's probably best to double-check everyone's contract to see what they're entitled to. If, for instance, part-timers are given all bank holidays off, but they don't work on Fridays, you can adjust their holiday entitlement on a pro-rata basis. 

The same goes for employees on maternity leave. Check their contracts to determine if the extra bank holiday will count as an "accrued" day off.

If you've been trading for over ten years, cast your mind back to the royal wedding in 2011. Did you grant your team the time off then - even if it wasn't written into their employee contract? Bear in mind that some long-term employees might raise this if you don't take the same approach this time around. 

Extra bank holiday: next steps for employers

If you're yet to do so, read your employment contracts to determine whether or not your workers are legally allowed to have the Platinum Jubilee off as paid leave. Communicate with your HR team and get specialist advice if you're unsure of something. 

Of course, it's essential to factor employee satisfaction and wellbeing into your plans for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. If you're in the position to be able to do so, you might consider letting employees take the day off anyway. The last two years have been difficult - and with the Great Resignation in full swing, it could help boost morale. 

Zoe Cornish

Chief People & Operations Officer

Zoe Cornish is the Chief People & Operating Officer at Funding Options. Zoe has an extensive background in human resources and in developing and implementing people strategies within companies, covering employee engagement, performance management, organisational culture, coaching, as well as policies and practice. Prior to Funding Options, Zoe was the COO at Emerald group (acquired by Mind Tools).

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