The Queens Jubilee Bank Holiday… Is it our right to the day off?
Hrmmmmm, do I have the right to take the Jubilee Bank Holiday off – or not? Well, as far as I can work out we don’t legally have the right to have ANY of them off. And Christmas and Boxing Day aren't even included in the legislation, as they are ‘common law’ holidays. Basically, if they really wanted to our employers could leave us all SOL on each and every one of them!
So, from that perspective, I can see how some have worked their way round to convincing themselves they have a leg to stand on in denying their staff the day as leave. Or paid leave, more to the point.
The argument being made is it just costs them too darn much money to give it – but at what cost are they scrooging their employees out of the day? Bank holidays are observed by most businesses because they engender happiness in the ranks – AND because the economy benefits! How much do you spend on a typical bank holiday weekend? Let me hare out an example of their profitability – it is estimated that a St Piran's day additional bank holiday in Cornwall, on 5 March, would benefit the Cornish economy by £20-35 million. Maybe it’s bad maths but I increase that exponentially when we’re talking about a holiday that the whole of the country will celebrate in equal measure.
So how long has it been since these HR dynamos sat shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the plebs on one of these days anyhow – even when they’re paying time and a half or double time to cover it? When the huge majority of the country is not at work today, guess what, the bodies sitting in testament to your company work ethic are just that – cadavers with the mind and spirit far, far away – in Facebook, Hotmail, The Telegraph Online, consoling themselves planning their next real holidays….
Many an employer will do well to cover the costs of being open that day, I’ll wager. And very, very few staff are entirely satisfied with their working life anyway so the hammer blow of the longer term effects on morale will surely make the cost more measurable given time. And I don’t know about everyone else, but I've certainly spent time working alongside the disenfranchised and – dude - they cost you MONEY! LOTS OF IT. When the environment that you cultivate in your work place makes it incumbent upon your staff to look over their shoulders you really have bigger problems to address than protecting your pockets from the ravages of a once in TWO working lifetimes day of leave. So, this decision may well be in line with the letter of the law but it rather leaves the spirit of it wailing and gnashing its teeth.