Do my employees get an extra day’s paid holiday?
It depends! Only your contracts of employment can answer the question.
If your employees get 5.6 weeks (28 days) including Public Holidays then, no, the Royal Wedding is a Public holiday and therefore is not an extra day. You might nevertheless want to consider “goodwill” and allow an extra day’s paid holiday. That could provide a pay-back in terms of enthusiasm for you as an employer, but it is not something you are obliged to do.
If your contracts state 4 weeks (or 20 days) plus Bank/Public holidays then (unless you have stated specifically which Bank/Public holidays you mean eg Good Friday, Christmas Day etc), your employees will be entitled to an additional day’s paid holiday in 2011 (and 2012).
Can I require my employees to work the day?
Well, sorry, but again it depends!
If your contracts of employment allow you to require employees to work Public/Bank holidays then yes, there should be no argument.
But in the absence of specific terms then you should look at how you handle existing Bank/Public holidays such as Good Friday or the Spring Bank holiday. You may be able to rely on precedents.
You might also ask whether you really need all your employees to work. Could some agreement be reached between those who want the day and those who might not? This event is going to be a real up-lifting one, a once in a lifetime occasion for many. Over one billion people are predicted to watch the television. Are you justified in denying that to your employees?
Do employees have to take the day off?
In the case of “Nil hours” employees the situation should be straightforward. If there is no work you don’t need them and they can choose whether it is paid holiday (as part of their entitlement).
In most other cases you should be able to point to precedents arising from other Bank/Public holidays. Do you require employees to take those days off? If so, then we’d suggest that the same terms should apply. For example if such days are normally deemed to be holiday (and employees have to take them) then the day should be treated and paid as such.
Are you going to allow employees to watch the Royal Wedding online?
This is your choice, there is no legal obligation. You must make clear that employees are at work to follow duties, responsibilities and tasks assigned to them; these need to take priority. But it may be judicious if you can allow time for at least those employees who are most interested in the event to keep up as the day goes on. Whatever you do, make some clear guidelines for the benefit of all.
It would be wise to check your internet policy and, if need be, to allow some relaxation of it for the day. But first you may need to check with your IT people that the streaming of television programmes won’t suck up all your internet bandwidth.
You could provide television screens. But whether live television watched digitally or online you should have a TV Licence ! ! !
The information here is general guidance and given in good faith. Specific circumstances may alter the guidance and courts could possibly interpret the law differently.