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Jubilee Bank Holiday - Are Your Practice Staff Entitled to the Time Off?

We have an extra day this year courtesy of the Platinum Jubilee – are you sure your staff are entitled to the extra day off? Do you know how to find out? Our HR expert explains the ins and outs of what Practice Managers can do on Her Majesty’s Grand Day Out…

Back in November 2020 the government announced that we’d be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Friday 3rd June, and that the May bank holiday would be moved to Thursday 2nd June.

This means that we’ll be having a 4-day bank holiday weekend, which, according to the Royal Family’s website, will “provide an opportunity for communities and people throughout the United Kingdom to come together and celebrate the historic milestone”.

IS JUNE THE ANNIVERSARY MONTH?

The Queen was crowned on 6th February 1952, so although it celebrates 70 years of her reign, it’s also the anniversary of the death of her father, so she has decided it wasn’t appropriate to celebrate the Jubilee on the same day.

The first week of June is also in line with the previous Golden and Diamond Jubilee events, which have historically taken place in the same period. It also means we’re more likely to have better weather for the planned events to go ahead and therefore more people will be able to attend.

IS IT PERMANENT?

So far, there’s no confirmation that it will continue as an annual public holiday – thousands of people have signed a petition for it to be a permanent bank holiday, but the last information was that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak was going to ‘examine the benefits’ of an annual 4-day weekend in June, but recent comments from MPs don’t make us think this is going to happen.

SO EVERYONE GETS A LONG WEEKEND, THEN?

Well…

OK, so simply put, it first depends on what your contracts say about your holiday entitlement. The total minimum for a full-time employee would 28 days – 20 days’ holiday and 8 days of bank holiday. This would be pro-rata for part-time workers, of course, and practices can still give additional holiday allowance, whether it is fixed or as a reward for length of service.

As we’ve always said – and any employment specialist worth their salt will tell you the same – the wording in your contract is especially important to get right so there are no ambiguities:

  • If an employee's contract specifies that they are entitled to 20 days plus bank holidays, they will also be eligible to the platinum jubilee bank holiday.
  • If an employee's contract indicates that they are entitled to 28 days of annual vacation, including bank holidays, it is up to the employer to decide whether or not to provide the additional bank holiday because it is not clearly stated in the contract.
  • If the employment contract mentions "usual" bank holidays, such as "you are entitled to 20 days' holiday plus the usual bank holidays in [your country here]," the employee is not automatically entitled to the extra bank holiday if it is not a "usual" bank holiday, but the employer may choose to provide it as an extra benefit.
  • If the contract doesn’t mention bank holidays (or similar terminology) at all, then they are not entitled as it is not clearly stated on the contract, and the assumption is that the holiday allowance will include bank holidays.

If it is mandatory for employees to work on public and/or bank holidays, this should be specified within the employment contract, including whether they are entitled to a day off in lieu of the bank holiday worked. Employees who are usually required to work on bank holidays should not expect a day off. However, if they are paid more on a public holiday, they might expect to be paid the same rate for this extra bank holiday.

Part-time workers will also be included in this, and the same considerations will apply to them as for full-timers – their entitlement will depend on what their contracts say.

If they are entitled to the additional bank holiday, but they don’t work on a Friday, then their holiday entitlement should be adjusted pro-rata (to avoid any claims of discrimination/less favourable treatment).

If any employees are on maternity leave, then they will carry on accruing annual leave and may, depending on the wording of their contract of employment, be entitled to an extra day’s leave for the extra bank holiday when calculating accrued annual leave due to them.

SO I CAN TELL PEOPLE THEY WON’T GET THE DAY OFF?

As an employer, you are not required by law to give your employees an extra day off for the additional bank holiday. However, before you tell staff that they have to work on the holiday, double-check your employment agreements.

You may be one of those practices who are going to be open on the bank holidays, so you may want to ask volunteers to work, or offer a higher rate of pay (or you may have staff who are working bank holidays as part of their contract).

From a ‘good employer’ point of view, think about the effect it will have on employee morale – even if they’re not entitled to the day off because of the wording in your contract, wouldn’t it be a good thing to do, considering the amount of frustration, chaos and hard work that staff have endured over the last couple of years?

If it turns out that employees aren’t entitled to an additional day of paid leave, but the practice is going to offer one as a gesture of goodwill, then you should set clear parameters for taking that day as additional paid leave (or time off in lieu if an employee was required to work), and make it clear to employees that the extra day is given at the employer's discretion.

Some take-aways for practice managers from this:

  • Check contracts at least once a year to spot any discrepancies/changes, such as this.
  • Share any updates to the contract with your staff, explaining why it affects them.
  • Take time to plan ahead and communicate with your staff
  • Check that there is parity between different contracts, e.g. full and part-time workers.

If you’re an FPM Member and you have any questions about bank holiday entitlement or any other HR issues, you can contact our HR Helpline on hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk.


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