Euro 2020 final rumours | Bonus bank holiday would cause 'headache for HR'

Bonus bank holiday would cause 'headache for HR'

News that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce a bank holiday if England win their Wembley UEFA Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday could leave HR in a pickle – with one expert saying the speed of the announcement would be a headache for the function.

With a spokesperson for Johnson saying that the PM would “set out our plans in due course” regarding the celebrations – although Downing Street sources have reportedly suggested that the timing of the next game would mean it would be too late to give fans an emergency day off next Monday – one HR Director has said she likes the idea but it would be hard to plan.

Indeed, with Guardian reporting suggesting that alternate options for a bank holiday celebration would be looked into if Southgate, Sterling, Kane and the rest of England squad make it all the way, Vicki Field, an Independent HR Practitioner, told HR Grapevine that a last minute bank holiday could cause problems

She said: “It doesn’t give a lot of time for managers / communications teams / HR to tell employees the plans for the next day. Planning logistics and company-wide communications is the last thing that most people want to have to think about if England do take the cup.

“It would turn into a complicated situation where some people get the message and turn up to work, others stay off – and no one really knows what is going on.”

Day off plans

Although Johnson’s spokesperson has told the media that they like the idea of staff having the day off to celebrate the game, it is likely up to businesses to decide if they can allow this.

For many, Field explains, they would not be able to. The HR expert indicated that many businesses – including retail, medical and transport services and hospitality – would need to remain open.

Field continued: “Whilst it’s a nice idea, probably best for each company to plan – and this is where the flexibility to work from home can help, if that’s possible.

“Or I know a number of forward-thinking employees who have already booked the day off as annual leave,” she added.

Thinking ahead

Field’s thinking aligns with research from Breathe which found that three in ten holiday requests for the day after Sunday’s final (Monday July 12, 2021) relate to England’s performance.

In addition to this, data from the HR tech firm found that 7,895 holiday requests were logged for the day after the England v Italy match at Wembley.

‘The headache for HR’

John Szepietowski of Audley Chaucer Solicitors Esher, said that “the headache for HR, aside from one caused by any Sunday night frivolity, would be the potential speed of the [bank holiday] announcement”.

Following the end of the match, he explained that the “the Government would then only have a few hours to announce a bank holiday, and HR staff would have even less time to communicate to members of staff that there is a bank holiday.”

He added: “Not all members of staff will have work on their mobiles and so it may be hard to reach the entirety of a company’s workforce.”

The expert went on to say that it would make more sense to announce a bank holiday in advance of the match as this would be more practical and give employers time to adapt.

Things to consider

Jeanette Branagan, Complex Case Consultant at Moorepay, shared several considerations for employers and people teams with HR Grapevine if a last minute bank holiday was to be announced.

The first thing, according to the consultant, is to consider the short notice.

She warned: “Remember, to enforce holidays you must give twice as much notice as the time you require staff to take. This means you will have to give two days’ notice if a bank holiday is announced (or if you make the decision internally to close the business for the day.)

“There’s no statutory right for employees to have bank/public holidays off work and should you require an employee to work on a Bank Holiday, there’s no legal requirement to enhance pay – it will come down to what is written in the contracts of employment.”

“If the contracts state ‘annual leave plus bank holidays’ but fails to specify which days the company considers to be bank holidays or how many bank holidays it considers there to be, then you will have to give all staff an additional paid day of leave to avoid being in breach of contract,” Branagan added.

What if staff ‘pull a sickie’?

Another thing for HR to think about, and which could be a possibility on Monday, is employees ‘pulling a sickie’.

With data from revealing that almost a quarter of a million will try to pull a sickie on Monday, this could be a challenge HR is faced with.

Claire Brook, Employment Law Partner at legal firm Aaron & Partners told HR Grapevine: “If an employee fails to attend work on Monday, this would amount to unauthorised absence and could be deemed to be gross misconduct and could result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

The legal expert went on to explain that given the late airing of the match on Sunday, employers may want to allow staff to have “flexible” start times.

She also pointed towards the health and safety aspects HR should consider.

Brook added: “Further, employers may wish to remind employees of the rules around being fit to work and ensuring that no one attends work under the influence.

“This is particularly important to drivers and those operating equipment. It’s also important to keep in mind that often its these types of sporting events that typically trigger some employers choosing to do random drug and alcohol checks.”

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