To mark 60 years of The Queen’s reign, the Diamond Jubilee will take place in June 2012. The celebrations will centre around an extended weekend, commencing on Saturday 2nd June and running through until Tuesday 5th June.

To mark the celebrations, the late May bank holiday has been moved to Monday 4 June 2012 and an additional Jubilee bank holiday will take place on Tuesday 5 June 2012.

Although this is gladly received by the majority of employees, a recent poll has suggested that 29% of employers are unhappy about the additional bank holiday.  The announcement has also caused confusion for both employers and employees as to their rights and obligations regarding the additional day’s Bank Holiday and our employment law team have received numerous requests for advice. As such, please find below answers to two of the most pertinent questions on the topic.

Are employers obligated to provide time off on Tuesday 5 June 2012?

English law allows the dates of Bank Holidays to be changed by the Government or for other holidays to be declared, for example to celebrate special occasions.

When it comes to employers’ obligations regarding time off on bank holidays, it depends what exactly is stated within an employee’s contract of employment.

Given the majority of employees are entitled to 28 days holiday (the current legal requirement under the Working Time Regulations 1998), the additional holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee should not affect this legal minimum entitlement for most employers.

If it is stated in an employee’s contract of employment that they are entitled to time off on Bank Holidays, then they shall be entitled to the extra day off for the Jubilee celebrations.

In the event an employer had genuine business reasons to require employees to work on that day, employers would need to have clear express contractual provisions to this effect. In the event that this is not the case, employers will need to seek an employee’s written consent to get them to work the additional Bank holiday.

Do Employers have to pay employees on Tuesday 5 June 2012?
Although it would appear many employers are likely to pay employees on this particular day, it is not a legal obligation to do so.

Employers are therefore, subject to their contracts of employment, free to choose whether any payments will be made to employees for this day’s holiday.

If you require advice in relation to any aspect of employment law, including advice on contracts of employment and employee holidays, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

By Victoria Mitchell, employment law solicitor in Lancashire