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Day of National Mourning

September 2022

Following the sad news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Monday 19 September has been announced as the date of her state funeral. It has also been declared as a Day of National Mourning and a bank holiday in all parts of the UK, given for the purpose of allowing employees to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate her reign. The government’s official guidance can be found here: Bank holiday announced for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral on Monday 19 September - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

This bank holiday will operate in the same way as other bank holidays and the right of an individual worker to have the day off will depend on the wording of the employment contract.

Are employers required to give their employees the extra bank holiday?

As stated above, this will depend largely on what the employment contract says, and employees do not have an automatic right to paid time off on a bank holiday.

Broadly speaking, if the employment contract states that the employee has an entitlement to a certain number of days’ annual holiday plus bank holidays, then it follows that the employee is automatically entitled to the extra bank holiday.

If the employee is entitled to, say, 5.6 weeks of annual leave inclusive of bank holidays, the employee is entitled to the extra bank holiday but, as with the earlier bank holiday in respect of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, this extra day has to come out of the consolidated holiday entitlement.

If, however, the employee’s employment contract states that the employee is entitled to a specified number of days’ holiday plus eight bank holidays, then they are not automatically entitled to the additional bank holiday.

Even if an employer is not contractually obliged to grant the extra day as leave, they may choose to do so as a goodwill gesture to employees. Indeed, the government guidance positively encourages this approach, noting: “The bank holiday will be a unique national moment, and we would encourage employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off”.

Do employees have a statutory right to extra pay for working on bank holidays?

There is no statutory right to extra pay, such as time and a half or double time, when an employee works on a bank holiday. Any right to extra pay depends on the wording of the employment contract. Employees are not entitled to be paid a higher rate than normal for working on a bank holiday unless this is provided for in the contract.

Will there be another bank holiday for the Coronation of King Charles III?

The government guidance states that no decision has been made on this at present.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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