King’s Coronation bank holiday | Do employees have a right to time off on 8 May?
Written by Alexandra Farmer on 24 February 2023
As the prospect of the King’s Coronation bank holiday emerges, employers may wonder, ‘Is the Coronation bank holiday compulsory for our workforce?’ In this blog, we’ll explore the considerations and obligations surrounding this holiday, and provide insights for employers when it comes to giving employees the time off for the King’s Coronation.
Many Brits enjoyed not one but two additional bank holidays in 2022: one to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Friday 3 June and another on 19 September, the date of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral.
This year, a further bank holiday has been proclaimed in honour of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III. It will fall on Monday 8 May, following the Coronation on Saturday 6 May.
With another unexpected UK public holiday approaching, business owners will yet again be left wondering whether their employees are automatically entitled to the day off. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple yes or no answer – it will all come down to the employee’s contract.
The law on working bank holidays
Unfortunately for employees, there is no statutory right to time off for bank/public holidays. However, employers may choose to include these days as part of employees’ annual leave entitlement.
Therefore, whether employees are entitled to time off on 8 May will very much depend on the specific wording of such clauses.
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What do we need to look for?
Within an employee’s contract, holiday entitlement will typically be expressed as either:
- X days’ holiday, plus bank holidays; or
- X days’ holiday, which includes bank holidays.
This will be a key factor in whether they can take advantage of any new bank holidays.
For example, if the contract states something along the lines of:
“You are entitled to X days’ paid holiday each year. In addition, you are entitled to take public holidays.”
then as bank holidays are included on top of the employee’s annual leave allowance, and as the contract doesn’t stipulate the exact number they are entitled to, the employee will be contractually entitled to take and be paid for the extra bank holiday on 8 May.
However, the employee’s contract may instead state:
“You are entitled to X days’ holiday during each holiday year. This is inclusive of any of the normal public holidays that you are permitted to take. The business recognises the following public holidays…”
In this situation, because bank holidays form part of the employee’s set holiday entitlement, and because you have expressly provided the public holidays in question, the employee won’t have a contractual right to the extra bank holiday in 2023.
What about schools?
The Department for Education has confirmed that schools which normally close on bank holidays will be closed on 8 May.
However, it has not yet made any adjustments to the school year to reflect these changes. It is anticipated that any changes will be similar to those made last year to account for the additional bank holiday in 2021/22 academic year.
What if we're closed, but staff don't have a contractual right to time off?
If you intend to shut up shop for the day, and your contracts don’t give employees the right to the extra bank holiday, employers have two options.
First, you can require employees to use a day of their normal annual leave entitlement on 8 May so that they don’t miss out on a day’s pay. Employers have plenty of time to do this, as they are only required to give two days’ notice for the one day of leave, but it would make sense to get the date in the diary well in advance. We recommend confirming this in writing to avoid any issues.
Alternatively, as many did with the additional bank holidays in 2022, you could choose to permit an extra day’s paid leave as a discretionary gesture. The fact you allowed employees to take these extra days off last year doesn’t bind you to make the same decision in 2023; however, given the well-documented benefits of reward and recognition, this may pay dividends.
Concerned your contracts could come back to bite you?
Inadequate or outdated contracts can present real problems for employers, as well as expose your business to legal risk. Our Employment Law specialists know exactly what makes a good employment contract, from the essential legal requirements right down to the subtle nuances in wording that can help to protect your interests.
To ensure that yours are robust, compliant, fit for purpose and offer maximum flexibility for your organisation, call 0345 226 8393 now or request your free consultation using the button below.