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Practice calendar: March

Do you have to grant employees the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding? Our legal expert advises

The issue

Following the announcement by the Government that the 29th April is to be designated an extra public holiday for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, do you have to grant the holiday to practice staff or can you refuse?

Expert advice

Provided your staff receive the statutory minimum holiday entitlement (28 days) there is no legal requirement on employers to grant all (or indeed any) public holidays. Similarly, there is no legal requirement to be paid at any particular rate for working on a public holiday.

The position will be governed entirely by the terms of an employee's contract of employment. For example, if the contract specifies that 'employees will be granted x weeks annual leave plus all public holidays' arguably the employee has a right to the additional public holiday. If, on the other hand, the contract specifies 'employees will be granted x weeks' annual leave plus eight public holidays', the employee is going to struggle to establish a contractual right to an additional day's leave.

In respect of pay for those who are required to work on the 29th April, the position will depend on the wording of the contract and in particular whether or not there is a contractual right to an enhanced level of pay for working on a public holiday.

Some employers have decided to add in the extra day to the overall holiday entitlement so that everyone has the benefit of the day, regardless of what day they work. Those practices who do not want to close and wish to operate a skeleton staff may be wise to give these workers a day off in lieu for fairness. Whatever your approach, make sure that it is fair and consistent.

Janice Sibbald is an employment law adviser with the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

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