Bank Holiday Entitlements: Are my employees entitled to a day off for the State Funeral?

With the announcement of an additional Bank Holiday on Monday, 19 September 2022 to mark The Queen’s State Funeral, a number of employers will be querying whether their employees are entitled to take the day off.

The starting point is; not necessarily.  Employees and workers in the UK are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave (under the Working Time Regulations).  For a full time employee, this equates to 28 days.  This entitlement is inclusive of the 8 usual bank holidays in the UK.  Whilst many businesses will be closed on bank holidays, there is no entitlement for the employee to have the actual day of the bank holiday off work as long as their total annual leave days meets the statutory minimum.  This entitlement is not impacted by the announcement of any additional bank holidays.

The position is more likely to be governed by what your employees’ contracts of employment states, and this can vary greatly from business to business.  If the contract provides that the employee has 20 days plus all bank holidays as paid leave, then, yes the employee will be entitled to take 19 September off.  Quite commonly however, the contract will make provision to reflect the statutory minimum position (as set out above), or for the employee to be entitled to paid leave for the standard 8 bank holidays.  Alternatively, businesses who generally remain open on bank holidays will have provisions along the lines that employees are entitled to take a future paid day off in lieu for any bank holidays during which they are required to work. 

Notwithstanding the legal position, employers should also be mindful of the wider employee relations issues.  The sad passing of The Queen has had a significant impact on much of the wider community, and many employees will wish to pay their respects and watch coverage of the State Funeral.  Refusing time off in circumstances where it is not critical for employees to remain in work is likely to leave a bad taste and may lead to other concerns coming to the surface. 

The key therefore is for employers to check the contractual provisions that are in place, and to ensure that you communicate with your employees clearly.  If in doubt, please do seek legal assistance to help review your contract of employment. 

Posted on 13 September, 2022 by Ortolan

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