As part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, an extra public holiday has been created on Friday 3 June 2022 in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The late May bank holiday has also been moved to Thursday 2 June 2022. 

Are your workers entitled to the extra day off? Does it need to be on 3 June? Do you need to move the late May holiday? The answers to these questions will depend on the terms of workers' contracts.

No statutory right to public holidays

Any public holidays you give can count towards workers' 5.6 weeks' statutory minimum holiday entitlement. However, workers don't have a statutory right to time off on specific public holidays.

Express contractual right?

Workers might have an express right to the additional holiday by virtue of their written contract terms. 

For example, workers would be entitled to an extra public holiday on 3 June 2022, if their contracts say: "In each holiday year, you will be entitled to [X] days' paid holiday, in addition to all public holidays." 

    Whereas, workers would not be entitled to an extra days' holiday if their contracts state, for example:

    • which specific public holidays (or how many) you recognise without reference to the Jubilee; or
    • that all public holidays are included within their total holiday entitlement.

    What if there are no clear express terms?

    An implied contractual right to public holidays can arise in some circumstances: for example, if there are no express terms regarding public holidays (or the express terms are unclear) and you have an established custom and practice of giving paid time off on public holidays.

    However, given that additional public holidays such as the Queen's Jubilee are 'one-off events' and arise so infrequently, it is perhaps unlikely that workers would have an implied right to the additional day off.

    If a worker is entitled to take 3 June off, can we ask them to work, or insist that they work?

    If a worker is contractually entitled to time off on a specific public holiday, you cannot insist that they work on that day. However, you can ask them to work and they may be willing to, particularly if there is an incentive to do so, such as additional pay or time off in lieu.

    Sometimes workers' entitlement to public holidays is qualified by wording such as: "To meet business needs, we may require you to work on any public holiday". In this case, you could insist on them working, although you should act reasonably (e.g. have a 'business reason' for asking them to work and give appropriate notice) and ensure that workers get at least the minimum 5.6 weeks' statutory paid holiday entitlement.

    A goodwill gesture?

    If workers are not entitled to the extra public holiday, but you decide to give it:

    • You can opt to allow it on the day assigned, or at another time.
    • You should explain clearly in writing to all workers (e.g. via a memo / email) that you are giving this one extra day's public holiday as a goodwill gesture, but that it will only apply in this particular leave year, and not subsequent leave years.

    What about part-time workers?

    Part-time workers should not be treated less favourably than comparable full-time workers, because they are part-time workers, unless you can objectively justify the difference in treatment.

    Generally, this means that part-time workers' public holiday entitlement should be calculated on a pro-rata basis to comparable full-timers, but there may be exceptions. Contact us if you would like to discuss your circumstances.

    Communicating with workers

    Confirm your position on whether workers are entitled to the Jubilee holiday on 3 June 2022 (or you are allowing it as a goodwill gesture), and any changes to other public holiday dates as soon as possible, so workers can plan appropriately. 

    Workbox by Brodies

    Workbox by Brodies subscribers can access detailed guidance on holidays and holiday pay here. If you would like to find out more about Workbox and how it can benefit your business, please contact our Workbox team.


    Kathleen Morrison

    Practice Development Lawyer