The Royal Family announced in June that a ninth bank holiday will be added to our calendar in 2022, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
To celebrate 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, Brits will have an extra day off on Thursday, June 2. Traditionally, there are two bank holiday Mondays in May – one at the beginning and one at the end of the month. This time around, the second Monday bank holiday will be brought forward to June 2, with an extra day off on Friday, June 3.
Holiday allowance for UK workers
While this may be music to the ears of UK workers, it is contentious for employers. Tara Phillips, Senior HR Consultant at Altum HR, warns of the considerations for HR managers.
“Had we not just come out of a pandemic, there may have been fewer issues,” says Tara. “But now, managers need to consider the holiday carry-over from the furlough scheme.”
According to government legislation, all UK PAYE workers who could not use their holiday allowance during the pandemic can now carry them over for up to two years. Under both UK and EU law, the statutory allowance is 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year.
“What we’re seeing is a surplus in holiday allowance. If workers already have extra holidays to take as they please, this additional day could make a real difference to UK businesses,” says Tara.
How managers can cover themselves
One solution Tara advises is to spread out this allowance over the course of the two years. “Some businesses are covering themselves by making stipulations about these holiday carry-overs.
“For example, they might say that staff can only take a set number during a set period, such as business quarters.”
Traditional employment contracts address the standard eight UK national holidays per year. Tara adds that it is worth including a clause for unforeseen events.
“The last time additional bank holidays were given was the Royal Wedding back in 2011, so it doesn’t happen often. But now may be the time to start considering changing contracts. For example, with the recent loss of Prince Philip, our queen’s health is a very real concern.
“We should expect a period of national mourning when the time comes, which will probably be two separate days – one after the announcement itself, and one for her funeral.”
Considerations for contractors
Beyond full-time workers, contractors are another contentious issue for managers. Tara advises that we must check the wording in employment contracts.
“Typically, employment contracts allow for eight bank holidays. The wording here is key to check if the contract allows for any additional days.
“For contractors, their contractor agreement also needs to be checked. Leave is established as periods of 48 weeks’ work, so once again, it needs to be factored into the additional bank holiday.”
Rights to work
Another issue for full-time staff is employee rights. A business may choose to close on a bank holiday. “By law, an employee does not have the automatic right to work on a bank holiday. If a business closes, he or she cannot state that they are going to work regardless”
This may be the case in office-based roles, for example. However, in sectors such as hospitality, where businesses are generally open, it’s another day to factor in.
“If your contract states that you must work bank holidays, such as in catering, then an employee cannot expect to take this day off. Bank holidays are a brilliant trade boost for the hospitality sector, so employers will want to keep staff in – but they may have to consider offering this extra day off in lieu.”
The extra 2022 bank holiday falls within the UK half term, which generally applies throughout the country – but employers may have to make additional plans.
“Childminders don’t work on bank holidays, so staff may have to plan for additional childcare. Any childcare schemes will need to be revised for this extra day, as it is illegal to treat staff differently or at a detriment simply because they have children,” says Tara.
How much will this extra day off cost?
While one day off may not sound like much, a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggests that each UK bank holiday costs the economy £2.3 billion. Further, were they scrapped altogether, it would save £19 billion.
However, we need to consider the benefits, such as with the hospitality sector above. Some studies say the extra day could boost the economy by £1.1 billion – so managers need to be shrewd when planning for next year.
“This is the first time in a generation that we’re seeing as great a change as this,” says Tara. “The Working Time Regulations were only passed in 1998, with the last additional bank holiday in 2011. There’s a whole working generation who’ve never been in this situation before.”
To stay ahead of the game, employers must act now, warns Tara. ‘We’re nearing the end of the holiday year, as many businesses have their year-end in December. “To protect your business and keep your employees in the know, start by:
- Checking current contracts for wording around ‘all’ or ‘eight’ public/bank holidays
- Looking at the contractual obligations for both contractors and workers
- Planning holiday restrictions in busier working times, or how carry-over can be taken throughout the year
- Calculating a cost-per-head for days off to plan ahead
- Considering the management of lieu days if staff are needed to work
- Communicating 2022 holiday plans now