Extra bank holiday - check your contract

Most of us will be getting an extra Bank Holiday this year, but double check your contract before booking a trip away. This month sees a double bank holiday whammy, with the Easter weekend closely followed by the Royal Wedding and May Day.

While, as ever, some people will have to work the over the bank holidays day to keep essential services going, most workers should get an extra day's paid time off. But a minority of tight-fisted bosses could exploit the law to keep staff working, or make them take the time out of their annual leave allowance.

Working time rules state that everyone is entitled to the equivalent of 5.6 weeks off work each year. If your contract lists out the bank holidays that you're entitled to, or states that your 5.6 weeks is inclusive of bank and public holidays, you may not automatically get the extra Royal Wedding day off as paid leave. Most employers should allow workers to join the celebrations as a gesture of good will.

Says TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, “It would be a very tight-fisted and foolish employer who decided to ignore the national mood and insisted on keeping staff chained to their desks when the rest of the country is off enjoying the bank holiday.”

And next year we'll be able to enjoy an extra day off for the Queen’s diamond jubilee. The TUC is calling for a new, permanent Community Day bank holiday from 2013 onwards, to celebrate volunteering. The UK currently has just 8 public holidays a year – well below the European average of 11. Find out more about your rights to paid time off work in the workSMART hours and holidays section.

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