As employees look forward to a long Jubilee weekend and additional holiday at the start of June, employers are finding it an extra headache and that’s before the party even begins.  Not only has the Government declared an additional Bank Holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 5 June, but it has also moved the traditional end of May Bank Holiday to 4 June, meaning an extra-short week of working time for employers in June and no doubt a huge number of requests for holiday as employees seek to take an extended holiday using only a small amount of their annual leave.  

So what should employers be doing? Making some decisions NOW. Decide now how you will manage time off and leave requests in a fair and consistent manner.  

For a start, are your employees entitled to take even the Jubilee Bank Holiday itself off? And if not, are you going to allow them to do so anyway?  

There is no statutory right to bank/public holidays, so the announcement of the Jubilee Bank Holiday does not vary entitlements to holiday under the Working Time Regulations.  Therefore you need to consider the employee’s contract. Does it say that employees are entitled to “bank holidays” or “public holidays”?  For example, any wording along the lines of “you are entitled to 20 days’ annual leave plus all statutory, bank and public holidays”?  In such cases an employee will be able to argue that he is entitled to paid time off for the Jubilee Bank Holiday. If the contract simply refers to “statutory holiday”, the Jubilee holiday is not covered. Nor is it covered in a contract which names each public holiday (and therefore of course will not name the Jubilee one).  

If the contract does not give the employee a right to the break, should you refuse it? The choice is yours.  Weigh up the pros (profits, maintaining service to clients) and the cons (lack of motivation, disgruntled employees). If you go for the latter, perhaps consider an incentive? Your employees won’t thank you for having to attend work whilst friends and family are attending street parties and swaying faintly to Vera Lynn, up to their ears in Pimms and bunting.  

And what if everyone wants an extended holiday taking advantage of the two Bank Holidays? Or if you don’t treat it as annual leave and everyone requests to take it as annual leave? The only fair way is likely to be a “first come, first served” approach. But consider how much staff cover you will actually need.  Will it be reduced if clients/customers are not at work either?  Try to be as flexible as you can within the context of your business – offices may be quiet but leisure and retail operations can expect to be at full stretch.  

And finally, pay?  There is no statute which says that an employee is entitled to be paid extra for working a Bank Holiday, but many employers do offer incentives, such as time and a half. You must check whether this is in your contracts and treat the Jubilee holiday as any other Bank Holiday from that perspective.