The Queen has been asked to intervene directly to ensure the NHS treats the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June as a bank holiday.
In what might be viewed as an unusual move by a union, Unite has written to Her Majesty over what it calls “mean-spiritedness” by some NHS employers in England who are treating the jubilee bank holiday as a normal working day.
With echoes of last year’s row over pay during the royal wedding bank holiday, the union said NHS staff should be allowed a day’s holiday on Tuesday 5 June or receive nationally-agreed public holiday pay rates if they have to work.
It has been left to trusts in England to determine locally how to treat the extra bank holiday. Across the rest of the UK, the devolved governments have instructed NHS employers to give staff working on the 5 June a day off in lieu while other staff will be entitled to a day’s paid leave but at normal rates.
In her letter to the Queen, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “I am asking if you could make an intervention to ensure that hard-working NHS staff in England will be afforded the opportunity, with the rest of the nation, to celebrate Your Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
“And for those that have to provide cover to ensure patient safety and wellbeing of the sick receive the nationally agreed public holiday terms and conditions.”
She added: “Employers across the UK are refusing to pay staff, who have to work within the service on this public holiday, the normal enhanced rates due for public holiday working.”
No response was available from the Royal press office.