Coronation Bank Holiday: are employers required to give employees the day off?

On Monday 8 May, the UK will have an additional bank holiday to mark the King's coronation, which will take place on Saturday 6 May. 

An additional bank holiday raises the question for employers of whether employees are entitled to paid leave on that day.  The answer to this question depends on what employees' contracts of employment say. If a contract allows employees 'all bank holidays', employees will be entitled paid leave.  On the other hand, if the contract refers to 'the usual' or the 8 standard bank/ public holidays, or does not refer to bank holidays at all, employees will have no legal entitlement to the day off, and it will be treated as a normal working day.

If this is the case and employees wish to take the day off, employers have a choice:

  • They can permit employees to book the day off, using a day from their standard holiday allowance. If several employees wish to take the day off, employers will need to ensure appropriate cover is in place and to deal with requests in a fair manner.
  • Alternatively, they can give all employees an additional day of paid holiday on that day, or an equivalent day at another time if cover is needed, as a gesture of goodwill. Many businesses adopt this approach, recognising that lots of employees assume they are entitled to the day off with pay and that requiring employees to work on the extra bank holiday may result in frustration and reduced productivity from employees, at a time when employers are experiencing challenging economic conditions and employees are facing the challenges of the cost of living crisis.  Giving employees the day off - or an equivalent day - may help generate goodwill and strengthen company culture  at a time when the battle to recruit and retain talent continues. Taking this step will also assist parents of school-aged children: schools will be closed for the day.

If employers decide to give all employees the day off, what else should they keep in mind?

  • Part-timers: employers should follow the same approach they usually do for part-timers, as set out in employees' employment contracts. So if, for example, a business usually pro-rates holiday for part-timers, it should follow the same approach in respect of the additional bank holiday.
  • Family leave: employees on family-related leave, for example maternity leave, will accrue the extra day and will be able to take it at a later date.
  • Records: employers should update employee holiday records to include the extra day's leave (or part day's leave, if this is the approach adopted for part-timers).
  • Communicate: as ever, communication is key. Let employees know that they will be allowed the day off - or another day if cover is required - so employees can plan ahead. Many employees will have family and friends taking the day off, so will appreciate being able to make plans as soon as possible.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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