Bank Holiday for the Queen’s Funeral

Angela Renwick
Angela Renwick
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With the passing away of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 8th September 2022, we at Just Employment Law are thinking of the Royal Family and all those across the UK, and beyond, who mourn her loss.

In the days since her Majesty’s death, we have been contacted by a number of employers with queries about forthcoming arrangements for the state funeral, which is taking place on Monday 19th September 2022.

With 19th September having been declared a bank holiday, we have been speaking with employers about their legal obligations, and about the arrangements they may be required to make for employees in respect of this date.

In terms of potential business closure for the day, if an employer decides to close its business for this new bank holiday, thereby not requiring employees to come into work if they would normally be scheduled to do so, those employees will be entitled to be paid as normal for the day.  An employer may have the right to require employees to take a day of annual leave from their overall annual allocation to cover this day if suitable communication takes place with employees in advance, but employers will need to consider carefully whether the employees’ contracts allow them to do so.

More generally, when thinking about whether employees are entitled to have Monday 19th September off, the starting point would be to look at the wording of employees’ terms and conditions of employment. If the terms and conditions of employment state that employees are entitled to “all UK public and bank holidays”, or similar, without specifying an exact number of public or bank holidays, or without listing the actual days considered as public or bank holidays, then employees will have the right to this additional paid holiday.

On the other hand, if the terms and conditions of employment state that employees are entitled to a fixed number of public holidays each year, or if it specifies which bank or public holidays are recognised by the employer each year, with 19th September not listed, an employer will not legally be required to give employees this additional day off. Instead, it will be a commercial decision for the employer to make as to whether it wishes to observe the bank holiday and grant paid time off to its workforce.

While preferences, operational considerations and options will vary from sector to sector, we note that the UK Government is encouraging employers to give employees the opportunity to have time off to mark Her Majesty’s passing. We therefore expect that many employers will follow suit.

If an employer decides, for business reasons, that it is unable to grant this extra holiday as an additional day of leave for employees, it is important to note that employees will still be able to request the day off work by submitting a holiday request. Employers should consider and deal with any such requests in the normal way, but in these particular circumstances, we recommend that requests are considered with sensitivity and flexibility wherever possible. The same approach would be encouraged in respect of requests from employees for unpaid time off.

If you would like to discuss your arrangements for the forthcoming bank holiday or if you have any other employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0141 331 5150.

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