Bank Holiday Announced For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral – What Employers Need To Know

It has been confirmed by the Government that the Queen’s funeral will take place at 11am on Monday, 19 September and that the day will be a bank holiday. This is to:

“…allow individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate Her reign, while marking the final day of the period of national mourning”.

However, whilst the day has been declared a bank holiday, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all UK workers will legally be entitled to the day off. We have considered the employment law position on this below.

Are workers entitled to the day off for the Queen’s funeral?

There is no automatic statutory right for all workers to have paid time off work on the day of the Queen’s funeral, or on any bank holiday for that matter. Whether employees are entitled to paid time off for bank holidays depends on their contractual rights (i.e. what their employment contract says).

If the employment contract states, for example, that the employee is entitled to “20 days holiday per annum plus bank/public holidays” there will be a contractual right for the employee to have paid time off for the upcoming bank holiday on 19 September 2022 so employers would have to automatically grant this day off.

An employee would not, however, have a contractual right for paid time off over the upcoming bank holiday if their employment contract said that they were entitled to (for example) “20 days holiday per annum plus the usual 8 bank/public holidays observed in England and Wales”. This wording makes it very clear that the only bank/public holidays to be taken as paid leave are the eight “usual” bank/public holidays; no more than this.

Where there is no contractual right for employees to take the upcoming bank/public holiday as paid leave, employers may use their discretion to give employees additional entitlement in order for them to take the day off as paid. It may not be appropriate for all employees to do this. Business needs and the nature of the business may mean that it is simply not going to be feasible or possible. The workforce should be in no doubt, however, as to their position. It should be made clear to them as soon as reasonably possible whether they are going to be expected to work, as usual, or not.

If my workforce isn’t contractually entitled to a day off for the Queen’s funeral and I receive a lot of leave requests, what approach should I take?

Where employees are not given an additional day’s paid leave for the upcoming bank/public holiday and/or they have no contractual right to take it as such, employees may request that it be taken as annual leave. The employee should request this annual leave in the usual way and follow the business’s usual policies. Employers will have discretion, again, to accept or reject such requests but they should be consistent in their approach and only reject requests where reasonable to do so (i.e. where there is a good business reason to do so).

The Government has given some guidance on the issue and has stated that:

“The Government cannot interfere in existing contractual arrangements between employers and workers. However, we would expect that many workers will be able to take the day off on the bank holiday. We also expect employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take the day of the funeral off work.”

Comment

How employers decide to deal with the upcoming bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral will therefore depend on various factors including the terms of their employee’s contracts, the nature of the work carried out by the employees, and business needs.

It is important that, however an employer decides to deal with the bank holiday, it does so in a fair and consistent manner and is sensitive to the views and feelings of its workers given this period of national mourning.

How Nelsons can helpBank Holiday Queen Funeral

Zara Gasztowicz is an Associate and Solicitor in our expert Employment Law team

If you would like any advice in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Zara or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.

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