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Nurses not entitled to royal wedding public holiday


Nurses are not legally entitled to take the extra national public holiday announced by the government to celebrate the royal wedding, Nursing Times can reveal.

Prime minister David Cameron has designated 29 April next year a public holiday to coincide with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

But the wording of the Agenda for Change contract leaves it open for trusts to prevent staff from taking the extra day’s paid leave.

Unlike many non-NHS employment contracts, Agenda for Change terms and conditions do not entitle staff to a certain number of days as annual leave “plus bank holidays”.

Instead, they specify that staff have the contractual right to eight general days of public holiday, which means that an additional ninth is left to employers’ discretion.

Unite lead officer for nursing Barrie Brown said: “We could have some silliness from some trusts, bearing in mind the current interest in other issues involving pay.

“There’s a cost to bank holidays. Staff are having time off and being paid. We can see trusts wanting to restrict the additional cost.”

A Royal College of Nursing spokeswoman said nurses had a day off in 1981 for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and it was expected that they would be allowed to take time off again.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust told Nursing Times they would pay for staff to take the extra day off work.

But Hempsons solicitors head of employment Jean Sapeta, who advises trusts on human resources matters, said this was unlikely to be the case everywhere.

She said: “I expect there will be discussions going on now between joint negotiating committees of various organisations with individual employers.”

Ben Willmott, senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, which represents HR professionals, said some trusts might only allow staff to take 29 April off work if they agree to forego another public holiday.

He said: “Some staff may feel badly done by if they feel that their employer isn’t providing that flexibility. But, on the other hand, times are extremely tight and a day’s entitlement for staff is a significant impact on resources.”


Readers' comments (25)

  • Personally I'm not too fussed about the wedding itself or having the day off to celebrate it, I'll happily work. However, if it is declared a national holiday and others are off due to it, then I will damn well expect bank holiday rates.

    To be honest, I don't care if times are extremely tight (there always seems to be enough money found to pay the execs!). We are already woefully underpaid as Nurses, and the way I see it, if you want our services, you should pay the right rates for those services!

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  • Well, another not unexpected blow for agenda for change and for nurses but will Trusts really be so petty?

    What about the Department of Health and Doctors too? Will they still get paid? Doctors of course are not on Agenda for Change. As the largest workforce but by no means the best paid, the pay bill for nurses is still probably the biggest. Pay for an extra Bank Holiday is a big cost to the NHS so perhaps the Goverment should have thought of that before declaring it but hey, that would mean looking at all the consequences in advance!! Will the Prime Minister and MP's still get paid? Oh, I forgot David C will be at the wedding so working!! (Dining and dancing work that is.) Anyway, as with the above respondent, although a Royalist, I am not fussed about it being an extra Bank Holiday as in these days of austerity, the huge cost of the wedding is under scrutiny. This furore however, is not the fault of the happy couple - this is a Government and NHS problem. Let's leave William and Kate out of this debate.

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  • What a surprise-one rule for the execs and another for the nurses-yes we are the 2nd class citizens.

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  • Well reading this I was gonna be outraged, but, I work for UHB. I do think this agenda for change leaves people worse off rather than better off. It gives in one way then takes in another.

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  • I think it is highly unfair if employers decide this is not going to be a public holiday for nurses. Will the fact that we will no longer be part of the NHS come April, when transforming community services comes into being, make any difference?

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  • so we lose out by having a pay freeze now we lose out on a holiday the majority of people are getting. Its great to be appreciated I would imagine only working for the NHS I wouldnt know.

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  • don't forget its not just the nurse but all staff who work in the NHS this will affect

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  • I don't give a crap about the royal wedding. Would rather be at work to be honest. But what I am to do with my children. I know that their child care provider will be taking the day off.

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  • Whilst l would take the view that all NHS staff should be allowed this extra days leave (I am a UK Taxpayer but no longer effected by any Trust decisions). This situation does show up the dangers of entering into contracts such as agenda for change without appreciating the potential disadvantages.

    I find it interesting that both spokesperson's for Unite and the RCN, (who l assume negotiated the Agenda for Change contract), appear to be simply willing to accept that some Trusts may well disadvantage those staff who are effected.

    I was therefore surprised that they were not saying, we will be seeking an urgent meeting at national level to try and agree a common and consistent application across the UK!!!

    Unfortunately contracts are still a binding agreement and whoever enters into them, is bound by what they agree either individually or collectively on behalf of others.

    Clearly there is a discretionary clause, so come on the Unions, your members pay you to represent their interests, so get a move on and sort this issue out quickly, for the people you supposedly represent.

    I take it that Union Offciers will also have the day as an extra Bank Holiday!

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  • Let's not forget that Agenda for Change will apply (normally) to ALL staff excluding medical and very senior managers. Therefore, it would not only be nurses that would be affected if this "glitch" was implemented by Trusts.

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