Guidance Notes: How to Handle Extra Bank Holidays
This year, there was a special bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The 2012 late May bank holiday was moved to Monday 4 June 2012 and there was an additional Jubilee bank holiday on Tuesday 5 June 2012.
It was a common misconception that the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday meant time off work and holiday pay for everyone employed in the UK. However, as 5 June 2012 was set as an extra bank holiday, it was ultimately up to the employer to determine whether special bank holidays would be treated in the same way as the usual bank and public holidays (e.g. Christmas Day and May Day bank holiday). The employer determined this by reference to the contract of employment.
The employer is not, by law, required to give paid or unpaid time off or offer extra pay for any special bank holidays if it is not set down in the employment contract. This means that if the contract of employment (or particulars of employment) does not consider any special bank holidays (such as the Diamond Jubilee) to be normal bank holidays, it is up to the discretion of the employer as to whether to give time off or extra pay.
These guidance notes consider what employers needed to look at when establishing whether the employee had the right to treat the Diamond Jubilee as a normal bank holiday. We also highlight what an employer might want to have considered when asking staff to work on 5 June 2012, as it could have an adverse impact on staff morale or the reputation of the company if employees are asked to work on significant public occasions.
In order to avoid any misunderstandings, businesses should have clearly communicated well in advance what their policy is in respect of the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday. No action should be taken without first consulting the employee’s contract.