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Are employees entitled to an extra bank holiday?

This year the UK will see a four-day weekend to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The late May bank holiday will be moved to Thursday 2 June and an additional bank holiday will be given on Friday 3 June.  This may leave employers wondering whether employees will be entitled to paid leave on the additional bank holiday.

It is important to note that employees do not have an automatic right to paid time off on a bank holiday. However, whether or not employees are entitled to an additional day’s holiday this year will depend on the wording of the employment contract.

If the employment contract states that the employee’s annual leave entitlement is a certain number of days plus bank holidays, then they will be entitled to the additional day off as the wording is not limited to the normal and/or usual bank holidays observed in England and Wales. For example, if the contract states ‘20 days paid holiday per year plus bank holidays’.

However, if the contract states that the employee’s entitlement is a certain number of days, plus the ‘usual’ bank holidays observed in England and Wales or specifically lists the bank holidays, then the employee will not be entitled to an additional day’s leave as it is not a ‘usual’ bank holiday. For example, ‘20 days holiday per annum plus the usual bank/public holidays observed in England and Wales’.

Likewise, if the contract is silent on bank holidays, for example, ’28 days holiday per annum’ this does not provide the employee with any additional leave.

Where employees do not have a contractual entitlement to paid time off on the additional bank holiday but an employer’s business will be closed, the employer could provide this as a gesture of goodwill.  Otherwise, the employer should provide employees with written confirmation that this day must be taken as holiday and it will be deducted from their overall annual entitlement.

If, on the other hand, the employer will be treating the additional bank holiday as a normal working day, employees should be informed that they will need to request annual leave in the usual way.

We would advise employers to check the wording of their employment contracts and confirm the position to their employees as soon as possible, to avoid any last-minute confusion.

If you are unsure or would like the position to be clarified, please speak to a member of the team who will be able to advise you further.