BBC News report indicates that the ‘extra’ bank holiday for the Diamond Jubilee is not an entitlement for some workers and the wording of an employee’s contract will actually determine whether an employer can legally refuse permission for leave. If a contract stipulates that employees are entitled to statutory paid leave plus all bank holidays, then the position is clear; the 5th June will be a lovely day off work for your employees, should they want it. If the contract states statutory paid leave and the usual bank holidays, or, perhaps, the 8 general bank holidays, then the legal interpretation of the wording is less clear. Some legal experts argue this means that an employer has the right to refuse the time off work. Also, part-time workers, who are legally protected by the Part-Time Workers, (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Act 2000, cannot be discriminated against and this could create a further headache for employers. Clearly, an additional day off will cause operational problems for some companies, especially smaller companies, who would normally be trading on that day and whose trading partners might also be expecting them to. The current economic climate is such that many business owners are finding it hard to survive at the moment, without the thought of whether they should enforce a helpful piece of wording on their employees’ contracts. The problem isn’t aided by a situation in which many UK employees generally feel stressed and overworked by their  employment. According to a CIPD study in October 2011, reported by the International Stress Management Association UK, stress has become the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual employees. Is this fact any surprise, with 60% of employees putting in over 1.5 hours of overtime every day, and with nearly 80% of those hours being unpaid (Aviva Report, 2011)? Add to this that the UK offers its employees the lowest number of holiday days per year, compared to other EU countries (28, compared to the EU average of 34), then it is not hard to see how employees may feel aggrieved and put upon again at what they may perceive to be an unfair and churlish decision by an employer to refuse them just one more day off. A few volunteers may choose to happily work on the Diamond Jubilee, but, realistically, most employees will be expecting to have a jolly. But, how many employers are expecting to enforce a ruling in their employees’ contracts to make them work on 4 June because they feel they have to, and how many will do so just because they can? How will Admin Saint Ltd approach this situation? We are fortunate enough to be a couple, so the only decision we have to take is for ourselves. As with most bank holidays, it will probably depend on the volume of work close to that day. If you find you need some extra admin support over the bank holiday (perhaps diverting a phone, a transcriptionist who is off work,  some urgent typing to undertake) please do contact us. We’d be happy to assist you.

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