By Chloe Harrold Of Boutique Employment Law Practice, Loch Associates Employment Lawyers

You can’t read a newspaper or watch a news channel without seeing or hearing about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s upcoming nuptials. Opinion as to whether we should be devoting so much time and attention to the Royal announcement is varied. A Sunday Mirror poll found that 61% of respondents are excited about the wedding next year, but a quarter of those asked didn’t know whether they were excited or not.

The latest announcement however has caused a clear division in public reaction, the date of the Big Day has been announced, and the 29th April 2011 will be declared a Public Bank Holiday. Employees are rejoicing at the extra day off they will get in 2011, whether they will spend it watching or celebrating the wedding is another matter. A vast number of employers however are inwardly, and outwardly, groaning. In these challenging economic times, with VAT increased, the disappearance of the default retirement age and pension reforms on the horizon, businesses are facing increasing financial pressure and an extra day of no productivity from employees is not a welcome additional cost.

Everyone is naturally assuming that, as the 29th April 2011 has been declared a Public Bank Holiday, this means that everyone will automatically get the day off work. However, to the despair of employees and delight of employers, this may not necessarily be the case. Employees do not have a legal right to the day off work on a Public Bank Holiday, or even a day off in lieu. As a minimum, full-time (5 days per week), employees are entitled to 28 days paid holiday per year. Many employers simply include Bank Holidays in this entitlement so many employees do not work on a Bank Holiday, however this is taken out of their holiday entitlement. An employer may however demand that their employees work on a Bank Holiday, as long as the employee is able to take a minimum of 28 days holiday in a year.

Depending on how an employee’s contract is drafted, an employer may be able to refuse them the day off on the 29th April 2011. For example:

• “You are entitled to 28 days' paid holiday in each calendar year of employment which includes bank or public holidays”. With this wording in their contract, the employee concerned will not be entitled to take the 29th April 2011 as holiday unless they book it out of their 28 days entitlement;

• “You are entitled to 20 days holiday plus any bank or public holidays”. This employee will most likely be entitled to take the 29th April 2011 as paid holiday, in addition to all other 2011 bank holidays and another 20 days.

This may come as welcome relief to employers who do not want their employees off on the 29th April 2011. If that is the case, check your employee’s contracts carefully and seek specialist advice before refusing employee’s the day off as additional annual leave.

While an employee could potentially be denied the Big Day off as additional leave it is worth employers carefully considering the impact of taking this decision. It may be an additional cost and you may care little about the Royal Wedding however there will be no ignoring the national excitement the day will cause and it is likely that the majority of employers will honour the extra Bank Holiday by giving employees the day off. If you want to maintain good employee relations and boost morale, let your employees have the extra day off and concentrate on the positives: your employees will feel rested and refreshed after a 4 day weekend, and hopefully so will you!

For more information on Loch Associates please go to www.lochassociates.co.uk

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