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West Midlands Police Federation

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Substitute Public Holiday Leave

Substitute Public Holiday Leave


As a result of the Winsor recommendations on Police Pay and Terms and Conditions, changes have been made to the public holiday regulations for police officers. This has caused some confusion as Winsor’s original report made certain recommendations that do not appear to have been included in the published Determination. Therefore, for the purposes of clarity, I’ve created a Frequently Asked Questions below which outline exactly what the new regulations entail.

What is a Determination?

Since the Police Regulations of 1987 were amended in 2003, Determinations were added so that any amendments to those Regulations could be made by the Home Secretary without the need to change the primary legislation. They are, effectively, addendums to the Regulations which put meat on the bones of the overarching framework. Determinations are an integral element of the Regulations and, therefore, share their legal status.

So what does the Determination on Public Holidays say?

The new Determination states that if you wish to substitute a statutory Public Holiday, other than Christmas Day, for another day, you can, with the approval of the Chief Officer, choose another day as your Public Holiday. In other words, you can swap one of the days you currently think of as a Public Holiday (such as Boxing Day) and take that Public Holiday on another day in the year of your choosing.

Can I take any other day as a Public Holiday?

You can apply for any other day but the Determination states that approval for that substitution must be given by the Chief Officer. Approval can only be refused if subject to the exigencies of duty. You’re likely to find that if you ask for a day which is a known day of exceptional demand, such as New Year’s Eve, approval may be justifiably rejected.

What happens if I don’t nominate any days or wish to remain with the statutory Public Holidays?

In that case, your statutory Public Holidays will be retained, ie those days you currently consider to be Public Holidays. Chief Officer approval is not required for the statutory Public Holidays.

Will I get paid overtime if I have to work a Public Holiday?

Yes. If you are required to work a Public Holiday, you will be paid double time for the hours you’ve worked. That applies to both statutory Public Holidays and, if applicable, substituted Public Holidays.

What would I get paid for the statutory Public Holidays if I’ve substituted them?

If you have chosen to substitute one or more statutory Public Holidays, that day would then become a normal working day so you would it at flat rate. Therefore, if you chose to substitute Boxing Day for, say, 15th January, you would work Boxing Day at flat rate and either take 15th January off or, if required to work it, be paid at double time for that day.

Can the force cancel my Public Holidays?

No. If you are required to work a Public Holiday, you will be paid at a rate of double time. If you receive less than 8 days notice you will get another day back. With less than 15 days notice the authority of an ACC is required for you to be able to work.

So the suggestion that no Public Holiday will be paid in future is wrong?

Correct. We initially feared that, as Winsor had been talking of the ability of the force to cancel Public Holidays, where resilience did not exist and officers were required to work, the force may simply cancel the Public Holiday and require officers to work at flat rate. However, the Determination makes no reference to the cancellation of Public Holidays and they cannot, therefore, be cancelled. As a result, if you are required to work on a Public Holiday (either statutory or substituted) you will get paid double time.

If I nominate another day for a Public Holiday, will I definitely be able to work that day?

No. In fact, as Chief Officer approval has to be given, it is quite likely that sufficient resilience will be available on that day to allow you to take your entitlement of a day’s leave on that day. If, however, you are required to work it, you will get paid double time.

When do I have to nominate my substituted Public Holidays?

You must nominate your substituted Public Holidays by 31st January.

What happens after I’ve nominated a substitute date for my Public Holidays?

Each chief officer must prescribe:

How the notice of a proposed substitution should be made;
The time within which an officer will be notified of the chief officer’s decision on the proposed substitution; and
The arrangements for proposing a different date, if the officer wishes to do so, where exigencies of duty prevent a chief officer approving a proposed substitution.

Does this change apply to all ranks?

No. This change applies only to Constables and Sergeants. Inspectors and above cannot nominate days other than statutory days. If they are required to work a Public Holiday, they are entitled to take another day off within the following 12 months.

Can I choose to substitute just 1 Public Holiday and retain the other statutory Public Holidays?

Yes. That just needs to be submitted for approval as above.

Can I apply to take all 6 substituted days in a single block?

Yes but approval will still be subject to the exigencies of duty. If there’s insufficient resilience available for any of those days then approval may be declined. This shouldn’t be a simple case of the manager not liking you having that time off though. It must be a policing imperative to activate the exigency of duty clause.

What happens if my PH falls on a rest day?

A public holiday cannot fall on a rest day. They are two separate types of duty. Therefore, where a statutory PH falls on what would otherwise have been your rest day, that rest day (for 8-hour and 2x2x2 officers) should be reallocated on that same roster. A simple example is that an 8-hour officer should have 8 rest days per month. If a PH appears within that roster, the officer should still get 8 rest days showing regardless of other considerations.

Unfortunately, the force has refused to apply the same pragmatic approach to 10-hour and 12-hour VSA officers. You will only be able to put 8 hours onto your overtime card (as you cannot take a full rest day automatically as you cannot re-roster the full tour of duty).

Will we still get another PH if Christmas Day falls on a weekend as at present?

Although Winsor referred to officers being able to substitute 7 public holidays, the Determination only refers to substituting public holidays and no specific number of PHs is mentioned. You will therefore be able to substitute however many public holidays there are in that year.

The actual wording is found in Regulation 22, Determination E ~ Duty :

“ substitute a day which is not a public holiday within the meaning of regulation 3(1) of the Police Regulations 2003 for any day which is such a public holiday, with the exception of Christmas Day.”

Regulation 3(1) defines a public holiday as:

"public holiday" means Christmas Day, the 26th December (if it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday), the 1st January (if it so falls), Good Friday or a bank holiday;”

Police officers have always been able to claim another public holiday when one falls on the weekend as the bank holiday will then reappear on the first weekday of that week and the below Home Office circular outlines that entitlement.

Regulation 4(1) provides that, for the purposes of the Police Regulations, 26 December or 1 January are to be treated as public holidays where either of those dates falls on a Saturday or a Sunday.

The Determination does not alter this and it is, therefore, still possible for officers to have, potentially, 6 public holidays over a festive season where Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, Boxing Day on a Sunday etc.

Interestingly officers have always been able to substitute a PHL day or a rest day for another day and that day would retain the status as a PHL or rest day so it does make you wonder why the government has chosen to amend police regulations & determinations!

The actual wording is found in Regulation 26, Determination H ~ Public Holidays and Rest Days is shown below.

“‘where it is at his own request that a member works on a day which is a public holiday, rostered rest day or, for a part -time member, a free day, he shall not be treated for the purposes of this determination as having been required to do duty on that day but shall be granted another day off in lieu thereof, which shall be treated as a public holiday, rostered rest day or free day as the case may be”.

Other useful documents

Annex E - Duty

Annex E - Determinations of the Secretary of State under the Police Regulations 2003