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Advice for employers ahead of extra bank holiday

Posted onPosted on 13th Sep

On Monday September 19th there will be a Bank Holiday across the country to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Recognised as a National Day of Mourning, it has been confirmed that schools and colleges, as well as banking institutions will be closed.

However, while many retailers and businesses have also announced that they will allow staff to take the day off to pay their respects to Her Majesty, the government has confirmed that this bank holiday will operate in the same way as other bank holidays across the year.

That means there is ‘no statutory entitlement’ for workers to take time off.

Katie Ash, an employment lawyer at Banner Jones, says that means that employers can insist that staff who would normally work on a Monday must come to work, or they could include the day ‘off’ as part of a worker’s leave entitlement.

Katie explains: “Next Monday will be a very poignant and important day in the history of our country, so it’s fitting that the government has announced a bank holiday so that the nation can mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and so that people can show their respects for Her Majesty. 

“However, there is no legal obligation for a business or organisation to close, and no legal requirement to give staff the additional day off – either paid, unpaid, or as part of their annual holiday entitlement. 

“There are a number of reasons why they may choose not to do so, including workloads, important deadlines and service delivery.”

Katie explains that the obligation in the UK is to give 28 days (or 5.6 weeks) holiday (pro rata), and bank holidays can form part of this. 

“Provided a company meets its statutory duty regarding the number of holidays a person is entitled to, there’s no right to time off on a bank holiday, and no right to be given the day of the funeral as an extra days’ leave.”

“That said, it’s important to put into context the significance of the events that will take place next Monday, and also the practicalities of asking some staff to work.

“With schools, nurseries and colleges closing some employees will face difficulties with childcare. Others will be emotional and may find it hard to work as they normally would.

“If an employer is struggling to accommodate the whole day, they might want to consider if it’s possible to offer the opportunity for staff to take some time off to watch the funeral instead. This doesn’t necessarily have to be paid provided the minimum leave above is given within the leave year.

“While meeting the needs of customers and clients is important, most employers will no doubt want to do what is right for their employees on what will be the one of the most significant days in history in our lifetime.”