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Do I need to give my employees the day off for the Queen's funeral? An Employment Lawyer's advice...

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Posted by Steph Marsh on 13th September 2022

Business Services

The Government recently announced the Queen’s funeral will take place on 19 September 2022 at 11am. The day will be given a bank holiday status to honour the national period of mourning.   

The additional bank holiday does not necessarily mean you have to give employees the day off and close your place of work. Rather, you might have the right to decide… 

What is the law?

There is no statutory entitlement for staff to be given bank holidays off. However, depending on the relevant employment contract, they can be given the day off as part of their holiday entitlement.  

If their employment contract states they get “all bank holidays off” then you have a contractual obligation to give them the day off. If it says “the usual” or “eight” bank holidays, then they do not have a contractual entitlement and instead, you can decide if you require them to work.

Factors to consider

The key factor to consider is the entitlement under the employment contract itself. If there is no contractual obligation for your staff to take the day off, then ultimately it is your decision, but there are other considerations to take into account.

The majority of schools have opted to close; putting additional pressure on working parents to arrange further childcare, especially if their place of work remains open.

As the day has been declared a bank holiday, most staff members already expect their place of work to close and there could be a reduced morale if that is not the case. 

A further consideration are the wider commitments that the business has; for example, is there an important meeting with another business which remains open, or an important delivery or order scheduled? If so, it might not be feasible to close for the bank holiday.

What should employers do?

Whilst the Government is hoping that employers will respect the period of mourning, there is no guarantee that workplaces will be closed. The key thing that employers need to ensure is early communication; not only to staff, but to customers and suppliers as well. 

Regardless as to the final decision, it will be vital to keep staff updated so that childcare arrangements and alternative cover can be sought if necessary. Being open and upfront about potential plans can alleviate the stress that employees might face and assist with morale in the workplace. 

If you are unsure as to whether your staff are entitled to have the day off or would like some general guidance on how to handle employee relations, then please get in touch with a member of our Employment team by calling 01752 663295 or emailing info@wolferstans.com.