Workers warned to check holiday dates

3 January 2020

Anyone looking to get away in the spring and thinking that the early May bank holiday would be ideal for a long weekend needs to think again this year as the Government has decided to move it from its usual first Monday in May spot.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the day that Nazi Germany surrendered (VE Day), the holiday will take place on Friday 8 May, repeating the move in 1995 when it was changed to mark the 50th anniversary.

The decision was announced in June 2019 when Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Moving next year’s early May bank holiday to VE Day itself is a right and fitting tribute. It will ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to remember and honour our heroes of the Second World War and reflect on the sacrifices of a generation.”

Unfortunately, the message failed to reach publishers in time and, as a result, millions of diaries and calendars have been sold carrying the wrong date. Reportedly, it would have cost £50 million to recall and replace them, so the decision has been taken to keep selling the incorrect ones and hope people see notification of the changed date before they decide to book holidays.

Travel firms have already noted a surge in bookings for the “incorrect” date with people clearly expecting to be on holiday on the Monday.

This will leave some employees reliant on either the goodwill of the airline or travel company with regard to making changes or they will need to talk to their boss.

The Government has reminded everyone that employers are not required to give bank holidays as paid leave and can choose to include them as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave.

Comment from CEO of BrightHR, Alan Price

Employees often incorrectly feel that they have the right to paid time off on bank holidays. However, this will be down to the wording of their respective employment contracts.

As the Government has advised, employers may require staff to work on bank holidays providing they still receive the appropriate amount of annual leave in return.

From an employer’s perspective, this change may create added confusion among staff, especially if individuals are typically allowed to take the first Monday of May off work.

In this situation, employers will need to decide on their approach, specifically whether they will let staff take the Friday off instead or insist that the workplace is closed on Monday as in previous years.

Either way, employers must inform staff well in advance to avoid any potential unrest and allow individuals to make their preparations accordingly.