We’ve just had a spate of public holidays in the UK, the usual May Monday bank holidays and a public holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As usual we were open on both the Monday holidays and I was at my desk in the library working away. My previous employer also didn’t close on the May holidays so this seems quite normal to me; I think I have to go away back to 1997 to find the last time I got a May bank holiday off!
I have therefore been a little bemused by the reactions I’ve had from some people to me being at work on the holidays, especially this week when many people had a 4 day weekend. Comments have ranged from the mild “Oh, I just assumed you’d be off, everyone else is”, to “lucky you getting double time”, to “don’t your employers know employment law? “to the extreme “that’s against your human rights”. I’ll take each of these reactions in turn –
“oh I just assumed you’d be off” – why would someone assume the opening hours of a business they know nothing about? It makes business sense for us to be open so we are; I bet there are plenty other companies who’d rather have been open but maybe aren’t quite brave enough.
“lucky you getting double time” – this comment came from someone working in the public sector, maybe double time is common there. I’m in the commercial world and as it was a normal working day for us why on earth would we be paid double time?
It really drives me mad when people make statements about the law which are incorrect and show that they actually have no idea what they are talking about, these two comments are perfect examples of this –
“don’t your employers know employment law?” – well of course they do, I work for lawyers! There is no right in UK law to take time off on a bank holiday. Leave is governed by the Working Time Regulations 1998; these Regulations give employees the right to the equivalent of 8 public holidays but there is no statutory right to time off on the actual public holiday days themselves. The leave that we are granted is well above the statutory minimum in these Regulations, we know the law better then the ill informed person who made this comment.
“that’s against your human rights” – ridiculous! How many people that claim something is against someone’s human rights have actually ready the Human Rights Act? I hope this comment was facetious!
While it’s nice that people were so concerned for me working on a holiday there are lots of upsides that they didn’t think of – no interruptions from people trying to sell me publications I don’t want, no piles of junk mail to sort through, great for getting caught up with the admin. And I get to take a day off when I want to to rather than at some fixed point in the calendar which might not suit my plans.
And yes we did get the extra Jubilee Tuesday holiday off work