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Am I legally entitled to have the 5th June off work?

By Katie Greenbrown
Posted May 21, 2012 in Business
With the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend beckoning, what is your legal entitlement to have Tuesday 5th June off work as an extra day’s holiday? Are you automatically allowed the extra day as holiday?
Although Tuesday 5th June has been declared an official bank holiday in the UK, many employees in this country may find that they don’t in fact have the right to an extra day off.
If you’re not sure whether you’re allowed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee at home or not, you’ll need to closely check the wording of your employment contract.
Here in the UK, full-time workers have the right to at least 5.6 weeks of paid holidays each year, which equates to 20 days’ holiday plus all public or bank holidays. Whether or not you’re entitled to any ‘additional’ bank holidays - such as the Diamond Jubilee - will come down to the specific wording of your contract.
A contract of employment which states an entitlement to ‘all public or bank holidays’ means you’re in the clear and can legally enjoy an extra day off on the 5th June. If your contract however, says that you’re entitled to ‘all usual public or bank holidays’, then you can’t expect to have any additional days such as the Diamond Jubilee off work unless you come to a special arrangement with your employer.
The fact that not all UK employees are automatically allowed to enjoy a double bank holiday over the Diamond Jubilee weekend may spell good news for many businesses in the UK. According to the Bank of England’s Governor Mervyn King, the additional day’s holiday is likely to have an impact on the country’s economic output.
This fear has been echoed by many organisations across the UK, who have expressed concern about the economic consequences of losing 24 hours’ worth of production or having to cover an extra day’s staff absence.
The position for part-time workers
If you work on a reduced hours’ contract, the offical legal position dictates that you should be entitled to the same holiday allowance as a full-time employee - but calculated on a pro-rata basis.
In other words, part-time employees are also allowed 5.6 weeks holiday a year, just calculated as the same percentage as the hours they work. The complication comes when part-time staff don’t work on the day when the bank holiday occurs. For example, an employee working three days a week might only attend the office on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
According to Head of HR at Leisure & Travel Group Cedric Auchere, the position on part-time employees is clear on the issue of the Diamond Jubilee.
“As brokers of airport parking and other travel services which operate right around the clock, we employ a lot of part-time workers. The legal position with regards to part time staff being entitled to bank holidays is clear - staff who wouldn’t usually work on the day on which a bank holiday falls are still be entitled to it as a pro-rata of their working hours. They can simply choose to take the holiday on a day which they would attend work.”
Will I get paid extra for working on the 5th June?
Again, this depends on the wording of your contract. If your contract states that you will be paid double or time and a half for working bank holidays, the Diamond Jubilee would be treated no differently. If, however, your contract dictates that the extra pay only applies to ‘usual bank holidays’, then you’d be expected to work without being paid over and above your usual salary.
Seeking additional clarification
If you’re unable to get a satisfactory explanation of your company’s position on time off over the Diamond Jubilee weekend or you dispute your right to time off, you might want to ring the Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice on 08444 111 444.
About the author
Katie Greenbrown is a freelance blogger and digital creative working under the moniker Tight Jeans & Jelly Shoes. Clients include airport parking specialists, arts organisation Manchester Craft Mafia and digital media specialists Agency of the North.