Do I have to give staff the bank holiday for King Charles' Coronation?

  • Leave and Absence
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Kate Palmer FCIPD - Director of HR Advice and Consultancy at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director

(Last updated )

On Saturday 6th May 2023, there will be a coronation for King Charles III. And to honour the newly crowned King, the government has confirmed there will be a bank holiday to mark the occasion.

It means you may have questions like, when is the extra day off? Does everyone get the day off? And how will the extra day off affect businesses?

Well, to answer those important questions and help you prepare, here’s what you need to know…

When is the extra bank holiday?

Because the Coronation is happening on a Saturday, the extra bank holiday will fall on Monday 8th May - two days later.

Do I have to give staff time off on the day of the King’s Coronation?

Saturday 6th May is not a bank holiday. So, you have no obligation to let staff take the day off if they usually work on a Saturday, or if they’re rota’d in for work that day.

But if your staff are down to work that day, you might get a lot of requests from workers who want the day off as annual leave.

Alternatively, you may just decide to give all staff the day off out of goodwill. You could give this as paid or unpaid leave. If you give the day as unpaid leave however, your employees would need to agree to this.

What should I do if I get lots of annual leave requests around the King’s Coronation?

Your staff may bombard you with holiday requests for time off at the same time. So, you’ll need to follow your usual rules for accepting and rejecting holiday requests to make sure you have enough staff in.

Whether you use a first-come-first-serve process or another method, you should have rules for approving leave in a holiday policy. Having a policy and written rules means your staff know your process for approving and rejecting requests upfront. So, they’ll be less likely to accuse you of being unfair because you follow a consistent process every time.

Trying to keep track of who’s requested leave can be tricky, and you don’t want to accidentally end up short-staffed.

That’s why it’s handy to have HR software that can help keep track of all staff holidays and flag up any clashes if too many people request a certain day.

Let HR software manage holidays for you

Avoid clashes and manage staffing levels by letting BrightHR look after your holiday admin.

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Can I refuse annual leave requests for the King’s Coronation?

It’s likely that many businesses will be non-stop on the day of the Coronation or around the bank holiday.

So, you may decide that you need all your staff in work during that period. You are able to refuse annual leave at any point in the year if you need to.

Do I have to give staff the day off for the bank holiday?

This is where it gets a bit more complicated, because staff don’t have an automatic legal right to take time off for bank holidays.

All workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks (28 days) of annual leave a year, and this can be pro-rata’d for part-time staff. And you can choose to include, not include, or add bank holidays to their entitlement.

It’s up to you to decide what your rules are when you set up your employment contracts. To find out if your worker has a right to the extra day off, you’ll need to check the wording in their contract.

What do you mean by contract wording?

It’s all in the wording. For example, your contract might say your worker has…

  • 20 days of holiday, plus all public/bank holidays -> Contractual right

If your worker’s contract says they can take any or all bank holidays on top of their allowance, they have an automatic right to the extra day.

That’s because the contract doesn’t specify how many bank holidays they can take in a year. So, they have a right to take all of them, including any new ones that pop up.

Or, let’s say your worker has…

  • 28 days of holiday, including all public/bank holidays -> Contractual right

Your worker’s contract might say that all bank holidays are included in their holiday entitlement. This means they will have a right to the extra day. However, this day will come out of their allotted 28 days of holiday, so it would mean they have fewer days of annual leave to choose from.

On the flipside, let’s say they have…

  • 20 days of holiday, plus or including eight public/bank holidays -> No contractual right

If your worker’s contract says they have a specific number of bank holidays they can take on top of their allowance, they don’t have a right to the extra day. That’s because they don’t have the flexibility to take any new bank holidays that you haven’t already set out in their contract. And taking the extra day would likely exceed their limit.

Your worker’s contract might even list the bank holidays they can have off. So, they wouldn’t have a right to a bank holiday that isn’t listed.

I need my staff in work. Can I ask them to come in?

It depends if your staff contracts entitle them to the extra day off. If your staff have a right to the extra day but you need them in work, you would need to change their employment contracts.

However, you would also need your employee’s consent to make the change and not giving staff a day off they were entitled to isn’t likely to go down well.

An alternative might be to consider giving your employees a day off in lieu or to look into changing your rota for that week. It might be that some employees don’t mind working, so they could potentially swap with anyone who wants the day off.

You could also consider paying overtime rates on that day to soften the blow and give employees an incentive to work.

Need to update your contracts?

Whether you need to update or create new employment contracts, your HR experts will handle the paperwork for you.

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What if I want to close for the day but staff are due to work?

If your staff are due to work but you want to close for the day, you could either:

  • Give them the extra paid holiday.
  • Ask them to take the day out of their annual leave.

If you ask staff to take a day of leave, you must provide at least double the amount of notice for how many days you’re asking them to take. So, if you’re asking them to take one day, you must give them at least two days’ notice.

Bear in mind that enforcing leave may upset some employees. That’s why it’s good to include this in your policies, so your staff know to expect this during busy periods of the year.

You should tell your staff about your plans to enforce leave as far ahead of the day as possible. You can do this via email and it’s best to give more than the required amount of notice. That way, it gives your employees more time to make plans. So, they can look at the enforced leave as something to be excited about, rather than resentful of.

Can I cancel an annual leave request I’ve already accepted?

Let’s say months ago, you happily accepted a request for the busy bank holiday without a second thought... but as the holiday approaches, you realise this move will leave you understaffed on what could be one of the busiest days of the year.

If you have to cancel pre-booked leave, you would need to give the same amount of notice as the length of holiday your worker has booked off. This means if your worker has booked one day of leave, you would need to give them at least one day’s notice to cancel it (but the more the better).

However, tread carefully. An employee won’t be happy if they lose money on a holiday they’ve already planned, and they could raise a grievance against you.

So, make sure this move is a final resort. If you are planning to cancel any pre-booked leave, talk it through with your employee first and see if there’s an alternative arrangement or compromise you could agree on.

What if my employee refuses to work the extra bank holiday?

If your employee’s contract doesn’t entitle them to the extra day off and you need them in work, they can only take the time off as holiday.

But if you can’t approve this holiday because of a valid business reason, like it would leave you short-staffed, they have to accept this. If they don’t and refuse to work, you can take disciplinary action.

Can I give staff the day off even if they’re not entitled to it?

Of course. Even if your contracts don’t say your employee has a right to the day off, you can choose to give it to them anyway. In fact, giving staff the day off as a gesture of goodwill is likely to go down well. It gives your workers the chance to observe the celebration in whatever way suits them.

Ultimately, you have to make a decision that’s right for your business. But if you can afford to give staff the day, it’s a good gesture to keep staff happy. And happy staff are usually more willing to go that extra mile.

How do I update my contracts?

If your staff have a contractual right to the extra bank holiday but you need them in work, you’ll need to update your employment contracts.

To update someone’s contract, you’ll need to confirm the change in writing either via letter or email. You’ll also need to get your employee’s consent to the change. If they don’t accept it, that’s when you may need to start a formal process.

To get help with amending a contract or ask any further questions, Peninsula HR experts are here to advise.

Click here to book a free consultation or call 0800 029 4384 to speak to an adviser today.

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