News & Views

Diamond Jubilee public holiday- to give or not to give?

BY Hussain Kayani
Employment law
BG Purple

The Government announced way back in May 2010 that Tuesday 5th June 2012 will be a special public holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The second May bank holiday will be moved to Monday 4th June to allow for a long weekend of celebrations. But are employers obliged to give employees a paid day off for this event? This is a question that has had some employers scratching their heads in recent weeks.

The answer, as with so many employment law issues, lies in the contract of employment. If your contracts state that all public holidays will be given, you will be bound to give paid leave for the Jubilee holiday. If, however, your contracts state that you will only give specified public holidays (eg. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years’ Day etc.) or if special public holidays are not considered, then you will not be obliged to give paid leave in June.

It will then be up to the employer to decide if they want to recognise the public holiday and give paid or unpaid leave for that day. When making this decision, employers might want to consider what action they took last year for the Royal Wedding public holiday, as this will no doubt guide (but will not be binding upon) their response this year.

Employers may also wish to take into account the effect on staff morale and whether there is any potential for negative impact on the organisation’s reputation. For example, last year Lancashire-based flooring company Interfloor suffered media backlash after it announced that its 400-strong workforce would work on the day of the Royal Wedding. Edinburgh Woollen Mill has also received adverse media attention as a result of their decision to refuse to give staff a day off for the Jubilee this year.

Whatever your organisation’s decision, the result should be clearly communicated to staff well in advance of the 5th June.

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