King Charles III has confirmed there will be a UK wide bank holiday on Monday 19th September 2022 for the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Given the circumstances, many businesses have taken the decision to close on this day to allow staff the day off to pay their respects. If employers are unsure whether they need to give their staff the day as paid leave, this article will briefly outline the legal position.

For the avoidance of doubt, the bank holiday will operate in the same way as other bank holidays, meaning there is no statutory entitlement to time off, but employers may include bank holidays as part of a worker’s leave entitlement.

Employment contract

If employers are unsure whether their staff are entitled to this day off, the first thing to do is double check the wording of the employment contract regarding public holidays. The holiday entitlement will either include or exclude public holidays.

  • If the employment contract says 20 days plus bank holidays, employees are entitled to the extra bank holiday.
  • If the employment contract says 28 days including bank holidays, it is up to the employer whether to allow the extra day this year or not, as it is not expressly included in the contract.
  • If the employment contract refers to the usual bank holidays in Scotland, the funeral isn’t a usual holiday and so again, it is up to the employer if they wish to offer it or not.
  • If there is no written contract of employment, there is no statutory right to the bank holiday, so the default position would be that it is worked, unless you decide to offer it as an additional holiday.

If a part time employee is entitled to the bank holiday but they don’t usually work on a Monday, their entitlement should be adjusted in the usual way to take account of this to ensure they are not disadvantaged compared to full time employees.

If an employee is not expressly entitled to the bank holiday but would like to take the day, they can of course request to take it as annual leave in the usual way. The government has urged employers to respond sensitively to requests for the day off.

The UK government advice is that schools will be closed, and at the time of writing, we understand the Scottish Government had written to all 32 Scottish councils with guidance on school closures. Some councils are still to confirm the closures but schools in Moray have confirmed they will be closed. It is therefore likely that employees with caring responsibilities will require the day off work.

Advice

Our advice to employers who have not already decided whether to close, is to check your employment contracts now so you can communicate the position to your staff as soon as possible. If you have discretion, given the sensitive nature of the bank holiday, it may be appropriate to approach it differently to other bank holidays but there is no legal requirement to do so. It is whatever is right and appropriate for your business.

If you are an employee and are not entitled to the day off, you can request this day as annual leave if you want to take it off. We just advise you do this as soon as possible to avoid disappointment because like all annual leave requests, they can be rejected.

How can we help?

If you are concerned about returning to work or are an employer with an employee concerned about returning to work, please get in touch with us at adelle@am-employment-law.co.uk and we’d be happy to help.