Any council staff who cannot bear to miss watching this year’s royal wedding unfold will have to take the day off out of their existing annual leave after councillors unanimously decided against giving them an additional holiday.
Members had been asked to decide whether to grant an extra holiday on 29th April, when Prince William is due to tie the knot with Kate Middleton. They were also asked to consider whether an extra day off should be sanctioned on either the Thursday or Friday of this July’s Tall Ships events.
Both the UK and Scottish governments have announced an additional public holiday for the royal wedding, and Glasgow City Council has indicated it will follow suit. But the SIC was under no statutory duty to award employees a free day away from the coalface, and the move was deemed financially unacceptable at a time of severe budgetary constraints.
A report from human resources manager Denise Bell stated that many of the main private sector employers in Shetland, including BP, NorthLink, Tesco and the Co-op, had indicated it would be “business as usual” for them on 29th April.
Council vice-convener Josie Simpson gained universal backing among his colleagues not to approve any additional time off. Councillor Gary Robinson baulked at the cost – each additional day would have cost the local authority an estimated £375,000 a day in lost productivity, while a further £93,000 a day would have to be shelled out to cover pay for essential staff working through the holiday.
Mr Robinson said that if anybody was “that keen” to see the royal wedding on TV, or take in the Tall Ships jamboree, it was “not beyond the realms for them to take it from their annual leave”. He added: “We’re not stopping anybody from taking the day off, and the report mentions that managers should do all they can to allow folk who want to have the day off.”