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Royal wedding will force some tricky HR decisions

The royal wedding and a run of bank holidays could create a strain on resources for organisations next month.

The combination of Easter, the marriage of Kate and Wills, and May Day means organisations could be hit if employees want to turn it into an 11-day holiday.

Many businesses are already expecting to see a drop in productivity similar to the Christmas period, and even if they don’t reduce to a skeleton workforce, they fear their clients and partners might, turning the week between April 22 and May 2 into a slump in the calendar.

Estimates suggest the wedding could cost the UK economy £6 billion in lost revenue, potentially made worse by staff calling in sick for the three normal working days in order to stretch the time off to almost two weeks. However, increases in tourism, pub spending and the memorabilia trade could redress the balance slightly by an estimated £1billion.

It could create difficulties for HR departments as they tread a fine line between honouring the holidays, but ensuring the organisation is still able to work to capacity.

Contrary to the expectations of most employees, organisations are not necessarily legally bound to offer staff paid leave for bank holidays. However, decisions will have to be made as to whether days off are decided purely by what’s stated in individual contracts, or if there is a risk of damaging team morale if staff are refused the paid leave.

Angela Baron, OD and Engagement Adviser at CIPD, said HR departments will need to treat the issue sensitively.

“In terms of staff morale, it may be more damaging for productivity if organisations stopped people having the day off, with people ringing in sick instead. In terms of the important things we are always talking about like engagement and morale, they may find it backfires if they don’t let people have the extra day.”

She said she expected businesses to cope with the extra bank holiday, because they were used to managing with less staff during the Easter period anyway.