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Extra Bank Holidays

10th January, 2011

On 23 November 2010 David Cameron announced that there will be an extra public holiday across Great Britain on 29 April 2011, to mark the much anticipated wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Bearing in mind the existing bank holidays for Easter, this may result in a three day week for many employers, some of whom will be preparing for the end of their financial year.

It has also been announced that there will be a further bank holiday in June 2012, to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

In addition to this, Nadhim Zahawi, Tory MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, has launched a Private Member’s Bill to make St George’s Day (23 April) a bank holiday in England and St David’s Day (1 March) a bank holiday in Wales. The Bill has been supported by the TUC, who point out that the UK currently has eight public holidays a year, one of the lowest numbers in Europe. The Bill had its first reading on 15 December 2010 and the second reading is due for May 2011. Despite cross-party support and the backing of the TUC, it is unlikely that the Bill will pass without support from the Government.

The holiday in respect of the Royal wedding (and indeed in respect of the jubilee next year) will hold the same status as other public holidays. Employers are not always legally obliged to pay staff or offer a day in lieu for these holidays if the holiday falls on a day that the employee would normally work.

The first port of call for any employer concerned about their obligations in this instance will be the Contract of Employment. The wording of the contract will need to be considered, for example, where the contract states that the ‘employee is entitled to 20 days holiday plus public holidays’ it is likely that the employee will be entitled to holiday pay, or a day in lieu for the extra holiday, depending on the terms of the Contract.

It is likely that many employees will seek to book the three days in the middle of the bank holiday weekends (26-28 April) as holidays. Employers will need to consider whether or not they will allow staff to take these days as holiday, and if so, the what authorisation process will be. Again, the Contract of Employment will need to be considered when doing this and care taken to ensure that the authorisation process is not discriminatory.

If you have any concerns regarding your obligations in respect of the payment of holiday pay, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team.

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