The UK Government has declared that Monday 19th September 2022 will be a bank holiday in the UK. Employers and employees alike will likely be wondering what this means for annual leave entitlements.
Berry Smith provide answers below to some key questions employers may be asking in light of the upcoming bank holiday.
Are employees entitled to a day off on 19th September?
Ultimately, employees are not automatically legally entitled to take leave on 19th September due to it being announced as a bank holiday, and this will largely depend on the wording of each employment contract.
If the employment contract states that the employee is entitled to all public holidays, the employee will be entitled to take leave on 19th September as an additional holiday.
However, if the employment contract states that the employee is entitled to a stated number of days’/weeks’ holiday plus the usual 8 public holidays, you may take the view that 19th September is not one of these 8 standard bank holidays and therefore the employee will not be entitled to take a day off. Similarly, if the employment contract expressly sets out the employee’s holiday entitlement and states that this entitlement is inclusive of public holidays, the employee can still be required to work.
Can I tell my employees to take annual leave on 19th September?
If the employee’s employment contract does not give rise to the right to take this unexpected additional bank holiday off as a holiday, the employer could require employees to take the day off, out of remaining annual leave. If you choose to require your employees to do this, you will need to give notice to your employees twice as many days in advance of the day specified as annual leave. In this instance, only two days’ advance notice is needed.
You could invite your employees to request time off, if not all employees wish to take the day off. Two days’ advance notice is also needed but employers can issue a counternotice refusing the request if it is issued at least a day before.
Is there any guidance on how I should behave as an employer in relation to this bank holiday?
Although the Government have stated that whether or not employees can have the day off work is a matter for discussion between the employee and employer, Government guidance encourages employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off as the “bank holiday will be a unique national moment”. Please see the following link for such guidance: Bank holiday announced for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral on Monday 19 September - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Therefore, while there is no automatic right to this extra bank holiday, you may wish to consider whether it should be given as a gesture of goodwill. This may be a preferable option and may go some way in demonstrating appreciation for employee loyalty, especially where there are difficulties in retaining staff members in the current climate.
This will of course need to be weighed up against the needs of the business. We expect there is likely to be a negative reaction from employees if this extra bank holiday is not acknowledged and it could fare negatively on your public profile to not acknowledge such a marked national event in this way.
If you would like more information about any of the issues raised in this article or on any other aspect of employment law, please contact us on 029 2034 5511 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.