The government is relaxing licensing hours subject to some restrictions in England and Wales to celebrate King Charles III’s coronation and has announced Monday, May 8, as an official, extra bank holiday to mark the occasion. Samantha Faud from of our licensing team, and Katy Parkinson from our HR and employment team outline how businesses in the hospitality sector can prepare for the celebratory weekend.
The relaxation to licensing hours
Under section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, the Secretary of State has the power to make an order to relax licensing hours for licensed premises in relation to a period (“the celebratory period”) that marks an occasion of “exceptional international, national or local significance”. The order applies to all qualifying licensed premises in England and Wales and must not exceed four days.
The King’s coronation on May 6, is a historic event marking the ascension of the new monarch to the throne and will be celebrated by people across the nation. In recognition of the occasion, the government has extended the hours for the sale of alcohol for consumption on premises; the provision of late-night refreshment (where there is also the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises); and regulated entertainment. The extension is from 11pm until 1am, over three days from Friday, May 5, through to Sunday May 7, 2023. The extended hours apply only to premises in England and Wales, that are already licensed for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises at least until 11pm. Some other restrictions also apply.
This relaxation of licensing laws enables licensed premises to contribute to the celebration of the King’s Coronation by providing a safe and enjoyable environment for people to celebrate with friends and family. It also helps to support the hospitality sector during the celebration period.
This is not the first time the government has relaxed licensing hours. Similar changes were made for the Royal wedding in 2011, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the World Cup in 2018 and most recently the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
Managing employees during the coronation weekend
If businesses in the hospitality sector are usually closed on a Monday but wish to open on the extra bank holiday, they may face challenges to staff their venues. Permanent employees may decline a request to work the extra bank holiday, and the content of their employment contracts will determine whether the employer can require them to do so. Casual workers may also decline requests to work on the bank holiday, or during the weekend.
If employers have no contractual right to require staff to work on the bank holiday, they could consider offering incentives, such as an enhanced hourly rate or time off in lieu, to encourage staff to work during most likely a very busy period for the hospitality sector.
Employers should also consider whether there is any custom and practice of paying staff who are rostered to work on a bank holiday an enhanced rate, or if their contract gives them a right to be paid at an enhanced rate.
In businesses where employees usually work on a Monday but wish to take the additional bank holiday off, employers will again need to consider what is contained within their employment contracts.
For example, if an employee is entitled to take 20 days’ holiday plus the usual 8 bank holidays off work, employers could decline a request to take the extra bank holiday off as leave or authorise the request and deduct this from the employee’s 20-day annual leave entitlement.
However, if the contract is more vague and simply states that employees are entitled to 20 days’ holiday plus bank holidays, employees will be entitled to take (and be paid for) the additional bank holiday on top of the other eight bank holidays this year.
Employers should also ensure that workers have opted out of the 48-hour limit imposed on the working week if they are likely to be working in excess of this, and be mindful of the requirement to give rest breaks during and between shifts in line with the Working Time Regulations.
Workers are entitled to a minimum of one uninterrupted 20-minute break if they work more than six hours, 11 hours of rest between shifts and either 24 hours without work in a week or 48 hours without work in a fortnight. Young workers are entitled to longer periods of rest than this and employers are also subject to a general duty to prevent risks to the health and safety of all of their workers, so they may need to consider giving longer breaks during any extended shifts worked over weekend of the coronation.
There is also a risk that employers could inadvertently breach National Minimum Wage Regulations where salaried employees are required to work longer hours than usual over the bank holiday weekend. Employers should work out the hourly rate paid to salaried employees during the pay period in which the weekend of the coronation falls, and top this up if it has fallen below the applicable National Minimum Wage band.