Will a bank holiday for the Royal wedding cost you more money?

Following on from last week’s announcement about Prince William and Kate, a few employers might be concerned about their obligations regarding a bank holiday, if one were announced.

I welcome views on this, because there is a mixture of both moral and business issues.

Employers and Bank Holidays

This is where the legal position should be clear. Employees are not automatically entitled to take off bank holidays with full pay – it depends what is in their contract. Employment law gives a right to a minimum amount of holiday, but does allow flexibility about when this is taken. So if you are an employer, you need to follow what is in the contract, what is normally done (‘custom and practice) and consider whether future contracts should have something different in them. It may be that the time off will be taken against annual holiday, or is unpaid.

As an employee the situation is just the same – you are bound by your contract and need to clarify things if an new bank holiday were announced, in case you assume that you can just not turn up that day.

Employer’s moral obligations

Whatever provisions are in your employee contracts, you need to consider how your employees might react to any decision that you make.

  • would they consider time off an undisputed right?
  • would there be co-operation if your business had to remain open?
  • would some who are less keen on royalty want to choose a different day off in principle?

and many other responses …

So, in order to react quickly to an announcement, check out your employment contracts. If you need to, contact ACAS (link for leaflet about holiday pay here) or your HR expert for their view. When you know your legal position, decide on your stance in line with your management style.