Tag Archives: Monday

Is all this extra leave really just humbug?

People from the same workplace used to go on trips together

The Royal Wedding and Jubilee extra bank holidays have produced a predictable flurry of queries about who pays for the extra day.   The answer to this lies in the contract of employment.

The wording of the specific employment contract has to be looked at.  If paid holiday is expressed as “28 days per year inclusive of bank and public holidays”, then there is no right to an extra paid day for the Royal wedding.   If paid annual leave is expressed as “20 days plus bank and public holidays”, then there may well be a right to the extra day, although some contracts define what is meant by “bank and public holidays” and list them out.  In the latter case, the extra day would probably not be included and so would not be paid.

There is no general right to be on leave on a public holiday – that again depends on the wording of the contract of employment.

The whole idea of having paid annual leave is a relatively modern one.   Public holidays were invented in the Victorian era , but it took a long time for paid annual leave to become the norm.

Workers were once required to work as many hours as their boss wanted them to.  The battle ground was not annual leave, but working  time.

Weekends were not leisure time for working people, and although they might have been given time off work to go to Church, this is a long way from the weekend as we understand it.  Saturday was generally a working day and Sunday a church going day.

The traditional northern Wakes weeks were unpaid from the 1870s until the 20th century, being a period of a week (or two) when mills were shut by the owners for refits or maintenance.    The August bank holiday was created in 1871, along with Easter Monday, Whit Monday and Boxing Day.

During the 1970s the old bank holidays were changed slightly, and New Year’s Day and May Day were added.

European law tends to treat annual leave as a matter of health and safety, and current minimum entitlements to annual leave are regulated under the Working Time Regulations in the UK.  The entitlement for a five day a week worker is 28 days including bank and public holiday, although many employers give more than this via their contracts.

The progressive entitlement to annual leave has created an entire leisure industry of its own.   When Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge complained about the introduction of the Boxing Day holiday, his business instincts were off base – he should have bought shares in the railway!

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website :  www.irenicon.co.uk

You can follow Annabel on Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under employment law, holiday, pay

In the midnight hour

Legal time does not work the same as any other time.  A legal calendar for obvious reasons has to be more precise than we normally are.   Here are some things that trip people up all the time and create some interesting results.

1.       Notice

If I give you notice today, it will start to run at midnight – in other words, whatever time today I give you notice, today won’t count (it is in effect day zero when calculating length of notice) .  Technically anyone given a week’s notice on Monday is therefore employment until midnight the following Monday (and entitled to pay for that day).  Similarly a month’s notice given on 1st of a month expires at the end of the 1st not the end of the last day of the month.

Why do we care?  Well people who want all their money care because they can claim an extra day.  Employers who get this wrong care because they have to pay an extra day’s pay if they are working on the wrong basis.    Anyone giving statutory notice of their intention to take leave or require an employee to take leave on specific dates will need to allow for this………the list goes on.

2.       When is a day not a day?

A day starts immediately after midnight but if you are calculating statutory sick pay, the first three days are normally waiting days and do not attract statutory sick pay.  Thus anyone who is off sick from Monday to Friday is entitled to two day’s statutory sick pay in their first week of absence.

3.       When does a week start?

What day of the week is the first day of the week?  For many this is a religious question and depends on when a particular religion’s Sabbath is. However, in the UK a week (unless otherwise specified) starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.

4.       How many hours can someone work in a week?

Lots of people believe the 48 hour limit under working time means people can’t work more than 48 hours in a week (unless opted out).   In reality it is an average, so as long as the average hours over 17 weeks (if no other period is agreed) do not exceed 48 hours, employees can work more than 48 hours in any given week.

5.       How long is a year?

52 weeks?  12 months?  Not always.   For the purpose of calculating qualifying service for unfair dismissal a year can include an extra week for statutory notice (after four week’s service statutory notice entitlement is one week).  Unless an individual is summarily dismissed for gross misconduct, they are entitled to add on that extra week (in order to claim unfair dismissal) even if they received  money in lieu of notice.  So, sometimes a year is 51 weeks long.  Similarly two years is 103 week’s long.

In the mad world of employment law, few things are what you might expect and it may already be far later than you think.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye


Filed under employment law