The Prime Minister has announced an additional bank holiday on 8 May 2023 to mark the coronation of his His Majesty King Charles III, which it is hoped will provide "an opportunity for families and communities across the country to come together to celebrate."
Notwithstanding the Prime Minister's announcement, employees may be surprised to hear that there is no automatic right to time off on a public holiday. Whether an employee will be entitled to enjoy the additional bank holiday will depend on the wording of their employment contract. Those employees whose contract provides that they are entitled to annual leave "in addition to public holidays" will be entitled to the coronation bank holiday, however, those employees whose contract provides for employees to take a set number of days as public holidays or includes wording such as "the usual public holidays" would not have an automatic right to take the coronation bank holiday.
Businesses where employees do not have an automatic right to leave will need to contemplate whether they will grant employees the additional day’s holiday as a goodwill gesture (which is what we saw many businesses did with this year's Platinum Jubilee bank holiday), whether they will require employees to work as normal, or whether they will close but require employees to take a day of their annual leave entitlement.
Employers will also need to consider business requirements when deciding whether employees will be able to take leave. If employees are contractually entitled to the coronation bank holiday but business requirements do not allow for this (for example, if employees work in the emergency services), employers could instead seek to agree with employees that they take a day’s leave on an alternative date. Care should also be taken to ensure that any decisions made could not be deemed to be discriminatory.
Businesses should consider whether employees will be granted an additional day’s leave for the coronation bank holiday and communicate their decision at an early stage to allow businesses to plan ahead and make any necessary arrangements.