Employee’s right to take time off for the queen’s funeral

Many employees are asking whether they can take time off on the additional bank holiday that has been announced on 19 September 2022 for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral. Not only do they want to take the time off but they also want to understand if they are entitled to be paid for the day as a day of additional holiday.

The government has announced that Monday will be a national bank holiday, allowing individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty the Queen and commemorate her reign. 

Earlier this year we had the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday which was an addition to the usual eight bank holidays in a calendar year. With the announcement that Monday 19 September will also be an extraordinary bank holiday there will be ten bank holidays in total this year. 

What many employers and employees are asking is whether an employer, is required to give this additional bank holiday to their employees as an extra day of paid leave. The answer to this question depends on the wording in an employee’s contract

Why wording in employee contracts is important

Employers will need to check their employees’ employment contracts to see how the holiday terms are worded. In a previous blog, Are your employees entitled to take time off for the queen’s platinum jubilee bank holiday, Katherine Maxwell gives examples of common wording included in employment contracts.

An employment contract which indicates that an employee is entitled to take bank holidays off in addition to their annual holiday entitlement but does not then state the total number or days of the bank holidays, will be interpreted so as to entitle an employee to take holiday on all bank holidays. This is regardless of the number in any particular year. So, in this case it would include the bank holiday for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. 

Some contracts will say that the employee is entitled to eight bank holidays or it may say bank holidays are included in the employee’s total annual holiday entitlement, for example 28 days holiday in any year. If the contract is worded in this way the employer will not be required to give an employee time off on the bank holiday set for the date of the Queen’s funeral.

Implied terms in employee contracts

In addition to the contractual wording, employers should also consider what they have done in previous years when additional bank holidays were announced. If these dates were given to employees as a day off previously, then employees may argue that it is an implied term of their contract that additional bank holidays are treated as extra paid holiday.  Regardless of the contract terms, employers have been encouraged to respond sensitively to requests for time off during this unique national moment.

Bank holiday Monday for the Queen’s funeral

Many retail employers have made the decision to close their businesses to give staff time off for these reasons even though they would usually be open on a bank holiday. Many people have been upset and deeply saddened by the Queen’s death. As a result, many employers are keen to do all they can to help their employees to pay respect to the Queen. Allowing them to take the extra bank holiday off as holiday will enable them to do just that.

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Are your employees entitled to take time off on bank holiday monday for the queen’s funeral?

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