01 April 2011

Royal Wedding Holiday Day

The Working Time Directive (WTD) decrees that all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid holiday each and every year, with a pro-rata entitlement for part-time workers, based on their hours worked. This equates to 28 days per annum. How this is disseminated by each and every transport company up and down the land is not the concern of government and so this can range from firm to firm.

Most, however, opt to allocate their employees 20 days annual leave plus afford an additional 8 days for the recognised bank/public holidays. Pre-WTD, some operators allocated their workers 20 days holiday but this also included the 8 bank/public holidays so, in essence, these workers were receiving just 12 days they could use freely.

2011 will see nine bank/public holidays, with the Prime Minister announcing last month that the date of the Royal Wedding on Friday 29 April will be an additional holiday in the calendar.

However, the WTD has not been altered to reflect additional holidays that may be added to each Member State's calendar and consequently no employer need offer an employee the day off (or to work but with a day's holiday in lieu) when Will and Kate tie the knot.

CBW devoted a page in their latest magazine to answer specific questions concerning the legalities of not offering employees a ninth bank holiday when the Royal Wedding happens. There appear to be two things employees can do to see whether or not they are likely to receive an additional day's holiday:
  1. Larger bus/coach/train operators will have negotiated with recognised trade unions and a decision will almost certainly have been made.

  2. Smaller bus/coach operators who do not entertain a trade union in their workplace will unilaterally make the decision. Employees should check the wording in their contract of employment. Generally if wording indicates you are entitled to a specific number of holiday days PLUS bank and public holidays, then the likelihood is that you will have a case should a holiday not be granted, but if the contract states specifically eight bank/public holidays in addition to the number of annual days leave two which you are entitled OR that you have x number of days inclusive of all bank/public holidays, you may be on a sticky wicket if your employer chooses not to afford you the extra day.
Critchleys HR and Payroll LLP, who wrote the CBW piece, detail a section on staff morale. With the Royal Wedding costing an estimated £2.9 billion in lost earnings, a TV in the place of work so that the wedding can be viewed while people work, or an event of the company's own to celebrate the occasion, are suggested halfway houses. This clearly won't work in the transport industry at all.

The PM had to offer a bank holiday when the Royal Wedding took place - to not do so would be an affront to the Establishment (whether you're a royalist or not!). It is just a pity that, as is so often the case, well-meaning gestures are not bound by law and permit those companies who want to, the right to save a few quid at the expense of their employees.

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