National Bank Holiday 19 September 2022 – Legal Update
15 September 2022
Following the tragic news on Thursday 8 September 2022 confirming the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the UK has entered a period of national mourning which will continue until the day of the Queen’s funeral, which is confirmed to be on Monday, 19 September 2022.
What does this mean for employers?
King Charles lll has announced that the day of The Queen’s funeral will be a National Bank Holiday. However this is causing confusion for employers, as by law there is no statutory entitlement to time off for bank holidays. Employers may grant time off on this day as part of an employee’s holiday entitlement, but this is dependant on the Contract of Employment in place or subject to employers’ discretion.
All employers are generally encouraged to provide their staff with a paid day’s leave for the upcoming Bank Holiday as a mark of respect, but we also appreciate it may pose difficulties for some employers. For that reason, we recommend that employers look to the wording of their Contract of Employment to determine the legal contractual position, particularly if they do not feel that they would be able to give employees the additional paid leave.
If the Contract of Employment state that employee holiday entitlement is a set number of weeks or days and that this “includes bank holidays” but it does not specify the number of bank holiday days‘ included or those specific days referred to, then employees could argue that their contract entitles them to paid holiday for this bank holiday and that employers should honour the terms of the Contract by allowing them to take paid leave on the bank holiday. However, contractually it is possible that this simply comes out of their total holiday entitlement and does not entitle them to an additional day’s leave.
If however the Contract of Employment expressly confirms the number of days’ bank holiday or the specific bank holiday days included as part of their holiday entitlement, an employer could argue that the employees are not entitled to the additional paid bank holiday and it comes down to employer discretion whether to grant an additional day’s holiday entitlement for it.
Alternatively, if your Contract of Employment states a set number of days’ holiday entitlement “plus bank holidays”, without specifying the number or nature of the bank holidays, contractually employees would be entitled to the additional bank holiday entitlement on top of their normal holiday entitlement.
Other points to bear in mind
If as an employer you are not granting paid time off for this bank holiday, it is worth noting that schools will be closed and individuals may request this day off to fulfil childcare commitments or show their respect during the State Funeral. In these circumstances, time off must be considered and granted to those who request it as per the terms of their Contract of Employment and your relevant policies and procedures, whether as annual leave, dependants leave or other special leave (whether paid or unpaid).
It is also worth noting that as it will be a bank holiday, if your intention is to remain open with staff being required to work, this should be something reflected in your Contract of Employment informing staff that they may be required to work a bank holiday. If you do not have such a provision we would recommend you seek further advice. If however the Employer intends to close the business for the bank holiday then employees must be paid for that day in line with their contracts, albeit whether that comes out of their overall entitlement or is in addition to it will remain subject to their Contract as mentioned above.
Irrespective of the wording of the Contract of Employment, employers have the discretion to grant additional paid leave to employees should they wish to do so and this is something employers are encouraged to do to allow employees to show respect for the Queen and monarchy.
Furthermore should an employer feel it appropriate to postpone any events that they were due to hold during this 10-day period, then they are able to do so at their discretion, however there is no legal obligation to do so.
We hope the above is of assistance but if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team on Employment@redkitelaw.co.uk.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.