Labour Research April 2022

Law Queries

Jubilee bank holiday

Q. We’ve been told that if we want to take the Jubilee bank holiday off, we must take it as annual leave. Is this allowed?

A. There is an additional bank holiday this year on Friday, 3 June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and the late May bank holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June to give workers an extra-long weekend. But your entitlement to actually take time off on those days, as with all other bank holidays, is determined by your employment contract.

All workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998. This was increased from the original four weeks specifically to allow for bank holidays.

The UK government had to introduce a minimum of four weeks’ statutory leave to comply with the European Working Time Directive, and later chose to extend this so that workers were also legally entitled to the eight bank holidays every year.

To recognise that not all businesses can close on those days, and that not all workers work on them, the additional entitlement was given as a yearly average that worked out as 1.6 weeks per year.

This means, for example, that if you don’t work on a Monday, you get the equivalent time off on another day, and if you work part-time you get a pro-rated equivalent. For a full-time worker working five days per week, this is equivalent to 28 days.

So long as the total annual leave is not less than 5.6 weeks, employers are free to agree the days on which it can be taken. This will be included in the terms of your contract (hopefully written down, but a verbal agreement still counts).

Some contracts state that workers are entitled to “20 days plus bank holidays”. If this is what your contract states, then you’ll be entitled to take the Jubilee day, because it is a bank holiday.

But if your contract says you are entitled to “20 days plus 8 bank holidays”, then you are not automatically entitled to the additional day because this year there will be nine bank holidays. If you have 28 days including bank holidays, it will come out of your “normal” days.

Of course, that doesn’t mean employers can’t grant the additional day as a one-off and it would be pleasing if this were the case in all workplaces. Sadly, it seems your employer has not so far taken this route. There’s still time to convince them that an additional day off will boost morale in these grim times.