Kate, William, a royal wedding and bank holidays

It has been announced that the royal wedding will take place on Friday 29th April 2011 and in order that we may all celebrate this day will be a public holiday. This date is the Friday after Easter and in the same week as Easter Monday, meaning that many people will work just a three day week, with two consecutive 4 day weekends. There will also be an additional bank holiday in 2012 for the Queen’s jubilee. For some it will be welcomed as an additional days leave and for some recruiters there may be business opportunities that arise as a result of events on the day. However for many an additional bank holiday simply causes more confusion, queries and cost on a day when earning potential is greatly reduced. There is also the question as to whether employees and agency workers are entitled to an additional paid day off to account for the additional bank holiday.

The position with regard to public holidays is one which causes a lot of confusion, since holiday entitlements were increased in 2008 and 2009 it has been a common misconception that employees and workers are now entitled to have paid leave on bank holidays. This is incorrect, entitlement to leave was increased and it can include bank holidays, but it is not automatically the case.  A worker or employee is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks per year; for a full time permanent employee this usually equates to 28 days per year.
Leave entitlement is often dealt with differently for employees and PAYE agency workers. With internal employees, it is usual to find that the situation is addressed within the employment contract, with the employee either being entitled to a set number of days plus bank holidays or a set number of days which includes bank holidays. How this is drafted can make a difference with regard to next year’s additional bank holiday. If the contract states that the employee is entitled to 20 days plus bank holidays then they are entitled to the additional day, without it affecting their entitlement. However, if the contract states 28 days inclusive of bank holidays, the employee could be required to use one of their existing days leave to cover the additional bank holiday.

For agency workers the situation is often different, contractual entitlements will usually be only to statutory leave under the Working Time Regulations and although there is an additional bank holiday year, there has been no increase in the statutory leave entitlement. Generally to be entitled to paid leave on a bank holiday an agency worker will have to have actually worked, requested that the day be counted as part of their annual leave entitlement or the employment business must have specified in advance with adequate notice that the day is to be treated as holiday. If none of these events take place there is no right to payment for a bank holiday and the worker can take their holiday on an alternative day.

But what if an agency worker does work on a bank holiday, do you have to pay then double time or give them a day off in lieu? The simple answer is no, there is no statutory obligation to do so. You may have agreed contractually that you will pay additional amounts or commercially it may be advisable to attract and retain staff. You may also be able to charge a client additional amounts for an agency worker on a bank holiday but you are not otherwise under any obligation to do so.

Holiday entitlements for agency workers can cause a lot of confusion. It is important that your contracts accurately reflect your company procedure and policy and that staff understand how holiday entitlement works so as to be able to clearly explain this to and deal with queries from agency workers. Lawspeed can assist with issues relating to both your employees and agency workers.


Changes in statutory payments and awards
Court rejects review of new travel expenses law