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A jubilee headache for small firms? TOM WATKINS.

EVERYBODY'S talking about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but will it end up being another bank holiday headache for SMEs? Many smaller businesses will be dealing with questions from employees about whether they will receive an additional day's paid holiday next week for the celebration.

Following the announcement that the late May Bank Holiday will be moved to June 4 and that there will be an additional public holiday to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on June 5, the large majority of full time employees will only work a three day week, or, as with the royal wedding last year, will want to take the rest of that week off work.

Last year, the additional public holiday to mark the royal wedding caused a headache for some employers, particularly given that Unite decided to name and shame employers who either treated the day as any other Friday and did not pay bank holiday rates to those staff who did work, or did not give them a day off in lieu.

So, are your employees entitled to an additional day's paid holiday on June 5 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? As there is still no statutory right to time off (paid or otherwise) on any public holiday, not everyone is entitled to a paid day's leave for a special occasion public holiday such as the Diamond Jubilee.

Whether an employee can be required to work on a public holiday or not depends on the terms of their employment contract. Where an employment contract says employees are entitled to "five weeks' holiday plus bank and public holidays" then they are likely to be entitled to the Diamond Jubilee holiday in addition to the usual eight public holidays.

However, where a contract simply says employees are entitled to 28 days' holiday each year including public holidays, there will be no such contractual entitlement. If you have this holiday clause you may decide to close down on the Diamond Jubilee holiday but you can require employees to take the day out of their existing entitlement as long as the relevant notice is given.

In many industries or occupations (such as retail, travel or emergency services) working on public holidays is a commercial or operational necessity. Public holidays are normally treated as any other day, so employees have to request the day as holiday in line with your policy in the normal way.

Where there is no such entitlement or necessity, many employers will decide to grant an additional day's paid leave to employees on this date.

Where employees do take leave on public holidays, this is likely to count against their statutory leave entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), depending on what the contract says.

For more information about the rights that part timers have and how to deal with holiday requests for the remainder of that week, contact the employment team at Dickinson Dees for some advice.

Tom Watkins is a director in the employment team at the region's biggest law firm, Dickinson Dees.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 29, 2012
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