UK announces bank holiday for Queen Elizabeth II funeral – The National Law Review | Directory Mayhem

Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, has passed away leaving the nation and people around the world in mourning. The Government has now confirmed that Monday 19 September 2022 will be a national public holiday (also known as a ‘bank holiday’) to coincide with the state funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The bank holiday marks the last day of national mourning.

The bank holiday will allow individuals and organizations to pay their respects and commemorate Her Majesty’s reign. The bank holiday works the same way as any other bank holiday.

From an employment perspective, despite the government’s announcement, there is no automatic statutory or contractual right for workers to take the day off for this additional public holiday. Employees’ entitlement to the additional holiday depends on the terms of their employment contract, and holiday clauses can vary.

The employment contract

If your organization closes for the holiday, you need to think carefully about how you’re managing the holiday. To understand whether workers are entitled to vacation time on public holidays, you need to look at how your employment contracts are set out.

If the contract of employment for full-time employees provides that an employee is “entitled to 28 days annual leave including public holidays”, the additional public holiday is not entitled. Alternatively, if the wording is something like “You are entitled to 20 days annual leave plus public holidays”, then the employee is likely to be entitled to an additional public holiday on September 19, 2022.

The same applies to part-time employees. But what if the holiday in question falls on a day on which the employee would normally work? Employers run the risk of treating part-time workers unfairly by granting a holiday to those who happen to be working on the holiday. One way to achieve equality is to give part-time workers a pro rata holiday entitlement, regardless of the working day.

The contract should also be the starting point for other types of working arrangements.

A decision for management

If you determine that employees are not entitled to the additional holiday, you have three options:

  1. Prompt workers to work as usual.

Even if your organization has the legal right to require employees to work, such a decision can lead to issues related to employee relations. Given a potential drop in sentiment and productivity on the holiday, and against the backdrop of current quit-quiet trends, the war for talent, and the rise in the cost of living, there may well be a commercial decision not to make this option. In many industries, businesses are required to continue operations as usual and in these circumstances employers would be encouraged to try to boost morale in other ways during the day.

If your organization elects not to give employees an extra day of paid leave but is closing for the public holiday, you must give advance notice of the closure of the business and employees must take one day off their annual leave entitlement. Keep in mind that employers must grant double the intended leave, ie two days in advance, to take a day of leave.

For employees, this option would clearly be the cheapest. If your organization can afford to be granted an additional day of paid leave, it would increase employee goodwill during this difficult time. Staff should be clearly communicated that this decision is an exceptional one-off decision to mark a unique national moment and is being made on a purely discretionary basis.

Remember that grief is a deeply personal experience for everyone involved. Individuals and companies may wish to comply with this period in their own way. If you don’t anticipate closing your business for the state funeral, please remember that workers may definitely want to take their time and employers are expected to be sensitive to requests from workers who are celebrating the day of the funeral want to take work off.

Now that we know that September 19, 2022 will be a public holiday and that schools will also be closed during this time, it is imperative for employers to plan ahead and communicate their plans to the workforce as soon as possible. Good communication, empathy and flexibility seem to be particularly important to us here at this time.

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