THE public holiday to mark next year’s royal wedding is a PR stunt set to turn sour – unless David Cameron passes it into law, experts warn.
Despite the prime minister’s announcement that April 29, 2011, will be a public holiday, businesses will be under no obligation to give workers an extra day off unless a new law is passed.
Employment law experts say small business are already checking their contracts to see whether they will be forced to pass the holiday onto staff or not.
Peter Mooney, of business compliance specialist ELAS, said, “As it stands, all employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday a year – which for most people is usually split into 20 days annual leave plus eight bank holidays.
“Next year, there will be nine public holidays, but no change to the number of days off people are allowed – meaning that the extra public holiday will come out of workers’ annual leave entitlement.”
As with the last time an additional public holiday was created – on New Year’s Eve 1999 – no new law has been passed forcing employers to honour the holiday, meaning few workers will be legally entitled to take the day off.
Without a change in the law employers will be forced to decide whether to give staff the holiday as a gesture of goodwill – and stand to lose a day’s work as a result; or run the risk of damaging morale by either opening as usual or taking the day out of workers’ holiday entitlement.
Mr Mooney added: “David Cameron has obviously got the positive headlines by announcing the extra day off but until he passes a temporary order, nothing has changed.
“Staff might be celebrating now – and might even get the day off on April 29 if the business closes for the day – but their excitement will be shortlived if they realise it has been taken out of their holiday entitlement.
“It’s exactly the same with the extra bank holiday to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 – it may make for great headlines at the time, but for employers it’s a headache, and for staff, a possible let down.
“Businesses who aren’t sure need to check their employment contracts to see whether staff are entitled to public holidays on top of an annual allowance, or whether bank holidays already come out of an overall entitlement.”
ELAS looks after the employment law and business compliance needs of more than 2,000 small and medium sized businesses. For further advice, or to arrange an appointment with one of its consultants, call 0161 785 2000.