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.”