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UK – Employers criticised for not recognising the Queen’s Bank Holiday

03 April 2012

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has started a campaign to ‘name and shame’ employers who have refused to give staff paid leave on both Jubilee bank holidays, the 4th and 5th of June, or offer them alternative compensation.

An additional bank holiday was created on Tuesday 5th June to make a four-day weekend to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year. The difficulty for employers is that staff do not have a statutory right to take a day off on bank holidays. Nor is there a legal obligation to pay employees more for working on a bank holiday and pay will depend on the employment contract.

Some employee contracts, for example, entitle a worker to 20 days’ annual leave in addition to all statutory, bank and public holidays, meaning they will get the extra day off paid. However, this does not apply if public holidays are listed by name in a contract.

The TUC urged employers not to repeat mistakes made during last year’s Royal Wedding when a “significant” number of organisations forced staff to work on the extra bank holiday (29th April 2011) generating “needless ill-will” among staff.

It called on employers to “do the right thing and give all employees paid leave on 4th and 5th of June”. For exceptions to this rule, such as emergency services, staff who will have to work the Jubilee weekend, the union called on employers to offer an extra day’s paid leave as well as contracted over-time pay.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “The long weekend will give millions of workers a chance to recharge their batteries and spend much needed time with friends and family. The economic benefits of bank holidays may be hard to be measure, but they are priceless.

“Sadly hundreds of thousands of staff are likely to miss out on the festivities because some tight-fisted employers are refusing to recognise the Queen’s Jubilee and intend to treat the Tuesday as a normal working day.”

The union also criticised the government for not increasing workers’ minimum statutory paid annual leave to cover years like 2011and 2012 when a special bank holiday is announced.

Speaking to Staffing Industry Analysts, Mike Emmott, employment relations adviser of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said, "Employees have no legal entitlement to take leave on public holidays unless their employment contract says so.   However in declaring an additional public holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee the government clearly intended that most employees would have the day off to celebrate the Jubilee.  As with any public holiday, some employees will have to work on 5 June in order to maintain services.  But those employers that don't recognise the fact that most employees will have the day off will be doing little to attract the commitment or loyalty of their workforce."

Earlier this year, conciliation service Acas warned employers to plan ahead for the Jubilee bank holiday to avoid last minute request clashes or short-term absences.

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