The decision as to whether or not to give employees an extra public holiday in celebration of the Royal Wedding has been vexing employers. There is potentially an additional public holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, so how the issue is handled now can set a precedent for next year.

Are employees entitled to the extra day off? The announcement of an additional public holiday does not change the basic entitlement under the Working Time Regulations.

So whether or not employees can claim the extra day will depend on the wording of their employment contract and on their employer’s custom and practice. If the contract says words to the effect that the employee gets a number of days holiday, ‘in addition to public, statutory and bank holidays’ then the employee might be entitled to the extra day off. If it says words to the effect that the employee gets a number of days holiday ‘inclusive of public, statutory and bank holidays’, then the employee probably doesn’t have a contractual entitlement to the extra day.

It’s a good idea for employers to check their legal position and to decide how they want to handle the issue, then discuss it with their employees and ideally, get the employees’ agreement. Remember, if employees do have a right to the extra day, taking it away without their agreement is potentially a breach of contract and can lead to Tribunal claims.