The day of the Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, Monday 19 September, has been confirmed as a national bank holiday.
The government said this would “allow individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate Her reign”. This date will also mark the final day of a period of national mourning.
It added that this bank holiday would operate in the same way as other bank holidays, with no statutory entitlement to time off. This means employers can include bank holidays as part of a worker’s leave entitlement.
The government said that where individuals’ contracts sometimes require them to work Saturdays or bank holidays, it would be “a matter for discussion between individuals and the employer”.
Similarly, if someone needed to work on 19 September, it would be a matter of discussion whether they could take an additional day’s holiday another day or be paid extra that day.
Employers are encouraged to “respond sensitively” to requests for time off during this “unique national moment”, the government advised.
There are currently no plans to make this an annual bank holiday, and a decision will be made nearer the time as to whether there will be a bank holiday in 2023 to mark the coronation of King Charles III.
Schools will also be closed the day of the bank holiday, it has been confirmed.
There are usually eight annual bank holidays for workers in England and Wales, while those in Scotland and Northern Ireland normally get nine or 10 depending on the timing of New Year and patron saint days.
There was an additional national bank holiday earlier this year on Friday 3 June 2022 to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
From a legal standpoint, when an extra bank holiday is announced to mark a particular occasion, whether or not an employee is entitled to an extra day’s holiday will depend on the wording of their contract.
If the employment contract states an employee’s holiday entitlement is a certain number of days plus bank holidays, they should be entitled to the additional day. If the contract is silent on the issue of bank holidays, however, or specifies which bank holidays are included, this may not be the case.
Kate Palmer, HR advice and consultancy director at Peninsula, said: “The government has stated that the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral will operate in the same way as other bank holidays which means there is no statutory right to a day off.
“Employers may wish to look back at how they have treated extra bank holidays in the past and do the same now. The difference is that there has always been lots of notice for previous extra bank holidays which isn’t the case with this one. To understand the baseline position on time off, contracts of employment need to be checked to determine whether employees have a contractual right to time off even if they don’t have a legal right.”
She added that managers should check contracts’ wording to check for any flexibility that “might allow employers to move things around”. “For example, contracts which state “eight public/bank holidays” but does not list them, or “eight public/bank holidays as listed, or other days as determined by us” may allow employers to give employees this extra day off but require them to work on another public/bank holiday,” she advised.
The government released mourning guidance last week that some business owners or event organisers may consider closing, “especially on the day of the state funeral”, but said there was no obligation to do so.
Public services such as trains and buses will continue as usual, although there could be changes to timetables and availability, the guidance added.
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