Paid Holiday For The Royal Wedding

Clarence House has announced that the Royal Wedding, which is scheduled for Friday 29th April 2011, will be a Bank Holiday. But what does that mean for employers and employees? Are you automatically entitled to an extra day off work at your employer's expense? Why should they pay for you to take paid holiday when the wedding could just as easily been arranged for a weekend day?

The question is more complicated than it might seem.

The first place to look is, of course, your contract of employment. Under the section 'Bank Holidays', what does it say?

If you are entitled to Bank Holidays and these are specified (e.g. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day etc) then the date of the Royal Wedding will obviously not be present. In this situation, even though it is a Public Bank Holiday, you have no entitlement and what happens is entirely up to your boss. If you are asked to work then it will be merely classed as a normal day and there will be no overtime pay or a day off in lieu.

If it just says that you are entitled to take Bank Holidays off but without specifying which, then the employer will almost certainly have to give you the day as paid leave. If you are needed at work, your employer may (but is not obliged to) offer you overtime or (as he or she must do) give you a day off in lieu. It then becomes a case of 'supply and demand' with you having the upper hand. If they want you in, then you can dictate the terms.

If your contract classes Bank Holidays as normal working days then you have no natural entitlement to a day off - it is for your company to dictate and you must abide by their decision.

In practice, your employer should already be circulating a memo clarifying their position on leave and overtime for those who either choose to or are obliged to work. It is not reasonable for you to be kept dangling so, if in doubt, get together with your colleagues (or ask your union representative) and seek clarification from management.

Are the Royals still so far removed from reality that they don't realise the chaos that they can cause the proletariat? Maybe if the bill for all the lost wages went direct to Buckingham Palace, the message would finally sink in.