If an extra bank holiday is announced to mark a particular occasion, for example a royal wedding or the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, as we have been given this year, whether or not employees are entitled to an additional day’s holiday will depend on the wording of the employment contract. Employees do not have an automatic right to paid time off on a bank holiday.
If the employment contract states that the employee’s annual leave entitlement is a certain number of days plus bank holidays, they will be entitled to the additional day off. However, if the contract states that the entitlement is to a certain number of days, and is silent on the issue of bank holidays, the employee will not be entitled to an additional day’s leave. Neither will the employee be entitled to an extra day if entitlement is expressed as a certain number of days “plus eight bank holidays”, or if the contract specifies which bank holidays are included like Christmas day, Boxing day, May bank holiday etc.
Even where employees do not have a contractual entitlement to paid time off on the additional bank holiday, employers should consider providing this additional bank holiday as a gesture of goodwill, where possible, or providing time off in lieu if employees are required to work on that day. Employers that ignore the additional bank holiday this year, or don’t allow people the time off, whether paid or unpaid depending on the wording of their contract, should be prepared for a negative reaction from their employees.
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