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Row over royal wedding holiday plan

A union leader has attacked the Government over the announcement of a bank holiday for next year's royal wedding after an official business website made clear there was no statutory right to an extra holiday.

The Prime Minister said the Cabinet had agreed that the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29 will be marked by a public holiday, which drew widespread support across industry.

But the Government's Business Link website carries a message to employers which says: "The announcement of an extra bank holiday does not increase any entitlement to holiday under the Working Time Regulations, so whether an employee will benefit from the additional bank holiday will be entirely dependent on the wording of their contract.

"For example, a contract which entitles a worker to, for example, 20 days annual leave in addition to all statutory, bank and public holidays, would potentially give the worker an extra day's paid holiday.

"However, since the wedding will be a significant public occasion, you will also need to consider whether it will negatively affect your employees' morale if your business doesn't join in with the celebrations."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "There is no legal obligation to have a day off or extra pay, so yet again this Government is promising one thing and delivering the exact opposite."

A Business Department spokesman said: "There is no statutory right to time off for bank and public holidays. Any right to time off or extra pay for working on a bank holiday depends on the terms of an employee's contract of employment and may be taken at a later date as some people inevitably have to work on a bank holiday."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Most workers will get paid time off work for the royal wedding, either through their contract or goodwill on the part of their employer. However there will be a minority of tight-fisted bosses looking to exploit a loophole in the law to keep staff tied to their desks on April 29.

"The Government can prevent this by making a simple amendment to the working time regulations."

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