How the additional bank holiday for Queen’s funeral will impact annual leave entitlements

13 Sep 2022

The date of the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been confirmed as the 19th September 2022. It has also been declared a Bank Holiday for the UK and therefore employers need to consider what this means for their employee’s annual leave entitlements.

The Government have issued some brief guidance on the additional bank holiday, which basically explains the leave arrangements are open to discussion between employers and employees.

Employers are strongly encouraged to recognise that the Queen’s death may be highly sensitive for many individuals, who may experience a range of different responses to the news of her passing during the 10-day recognised mourning period and for some time to follow.

With the closure of schools on the 19th of September, some employees may experience difficulties with arranging childcare which will is also a factor in helping determine what employers should do during the course of the day.

Many employers chose to allow an additional day’s leave to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee back in June, but this day was planned over a year in advance, allowing time for companies to plan a potential closure for the day.

The unexpected passing of our Queen, in which the funeral will be held within 10 days of her death, has potentially created difficulties for employers when considering a potential closure of their business for the day in a short time frame.

Depending on the existing contractual terms in place, employers may have to allow the additional days leave, which we have explained below:

  • If the contract states X days or weeks per year, plus public and bank holidays, but does not state a number of days associated with the public or bank holidays, employees will contractually be entitled to the extra bank holiday, as the number of bank holidays has not been specified.

  • If the contracts states X days, inclusive of public and bank holidays, employees will not be contractually entitled to the extra day, as the total number of days has been specified. 

  • If the contract states X days, plus 8 days public or bank holidays, again employees will not contractually be entitled to the extra day off, as again the total number of days has been set.

If employers are either contractually obliged or chose to regard the additional day as a Bank Holiday on top of normal entitlements, you are encouraged to make sure communications are clear this is unprecedented and will not be considered the norm moving forward.

Those who are not working on the day of the funeral, for example, part time employees, those on long term sickness, or maternity, adoption, shared parental leave, should have the additional day recognised.

Many employers allocate the known bank holidays to form part of the employee’s entitlement, with the balance being taken during the 8 normally recognised days.

This unexpected additional bank holiday will of course not have been allocated, and therefore if employers want the day to be taken as part of the existing holiday entitlement, they will need to provide double the amount of notice of the required day off, i.e. employers must provide at least 2 days’ notice that the 19th of September is to be taken as a day’s leave from their existing entitlement and therefore will not be regarded as an additional day off.

Where a shutdown cannot be accommodated, it is strongly encouraged employees are notified as soon as possible, clearly outlining the reasons why. This could be for logistical or financial reasons. Owing to the sensitivity of the day, employers are encouraged to consider if some downtime during the day can be arranged to potentially watch the funeral, which is believed to air at 11am. This could perhaps be on screens in the workplace or in communal areas. Employees do have the right to request a day’s annual leave should they wish to.

This will also leave employers questioning if any further additional days off will be required, i.e. for the King’s Coronation (details are yet to be confirmed) but long-term employers should really consider if the wording within the existing contracts are fit for purpose, an area we are happy to support with.

I am sure most employers will support and recognise the day where we say our final goodbyes to our Queen, who dedicated her life to serving the United Kingdom, whether this is accommodating an extra day off, or continuing to work, but allowing their employees to mark their respect as they see fit.  I am sure the 19th of September 2022 for most of the UK will not be a ‘normal day’.

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