Most Small Firms Plan to Ignore Diamond Jubilee
The majority of small businesses are not planning to give staff an extra day off for the Diamond Jubilee in June and most are fed up with “footing the bill” for royal celebrations, business services firm ELAS has found.
The ELAS poll of 700 small firms found that 62% planned to either stay open on 5 June or take the extra bank holiday out of their employee’s regular holiday entitlement.
Almost three-quarters said they were against the Government using additional bank holidays as a way of celebrating national events such as the Diamond Jubilee and last year’s Royal Wedding.
Like last year’s wedding, the Jubilee is being tacked onto an existing bank holiday, meaning two consecutive days’ lost trade for many businesses. Peter Mooney, ELAS’s head of consultancy, said:
“This is the second year running that businesses have been asked to foot the bill for a royal celebration.”
“While most people don’t begrudge the Queen wanting to celebrate 60 years on the throne, these are businesses which are in many cases already hard-pressed to make ends meet, and which simply cannot afford another day’s lost trade,” he added.
Mooney also said that businesses were concerned about employees rushing to book an extra three days’ leave to give themselves a full week off.
Despite the poll results, employment experts and business groups warned employers to check the wording of their employment contracts carefully before deciding on a leave policy for the special bank holiday — and in particular to be wary of the legal distinction between ‘bank holidays’ and ‘public holidays’.
Businesses would only be entitled to force staff to work on Jubilee Day or take the extra day out of their ‘regular’ leave if their contract stipulated that that employees were entitled to 28 days’ leave excluding bank holidays, said Louise Barnes, senior employment consultant at Croner Consulting.
If the contract specified 20 days’ leave plus bank holidays or if it said ‘bank holidays’ instead of ‘public holidays’, then employers would have to give staff the day off, she explained. The contract would also determine whether employers had to pay staff for the extra day off.
“It does emphasise the importance of checking the wording of your contract before it’s too late,”
said Barnes. She also advised businesses to be completely fair and clear about granting leave requests for the extra three days.
Both the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Forum of Private Business (FPB) said they had received few enquiries from members about the Jubilee bank holiday — perhaps because they had already been through the process with the Royal Wedding last year. Both also stressed the importance of maintaining good employee relations when making decisions about leave and pointed out the potential wider benefits of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations to the UK economy.
The FSB has produced a factsheet for businesses (PDF) outlining their entitlements and obligations around special bank holidays and public holidays.