The news of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s death rocked the UK and the world. Now, as we enter a period of national mourning, there are several ways this will impact businesses directly.
One of these is the announcement of a national bank holiday to mark the Queen’s funeral. The state funeral will be held on Monday 19th September 2022.
Are employers entitled to give staff time off for this day? It all comes down to your contracts…
What the law says about bank holidays
Employees don’t have a legal entitlement to time off during bank holidays. So long as a worker receives their 5.6 weeks holiday during a leave year, you are legally compliant.
That being said, it’s important to refer to your employment contracts. If you fail to provide the annual leave entitlement set out in your documentation, you’ll be in breach of contract. This is likely to result in a tribunal claim.
But how can you be sure you’re following your contract clauses correctly?
Here are some of the most common annual leave entitlement clauses we see in employment contracts and how you should respond to the extra bank holiday...
Clauses to look out for:
“The employee is entitled to 20 days annual leave plus bank holidays”
If your contracts include this wording, or wording of a similar nature, you should allow staff to take the additional bank holiday as annual leave. Refer to your previous annual leave policies to ensure you grant it in line with your documentation.
“The employee is entitled to 20 days annual leave plus ‘usual bank holidays’”
The employee isn’t automatically entitled to leave with this clause. However, we would recommend changing this wording, as it is unclear, and could be misinterpreted. If employees expect a day off due to the wording of their contracts, and they aren’t granted, it could cause a rift between you and staff members
“The employee is entitled to 28 days annual leave inclusive of bank holidays”
If your contract includes this clause or similar, it’s up to you whether to grant employees the day off. We would recommend you take the same approach you took with the Jubilee earlier this year. If you granted a day off for the Jubilee, but refuse to do so now, it may cause a hit to morale and productivity.
“The employee is entitled to 28 days annual leave, this may or may not be taken on bank holidays.”
The employee isn’t entitled to leave on bank holidays with this clause. It may be worth clarifying that the decision rests with you as to when holiday can be taken. If your contracts don’t clarify this, we would recommend reworking to make your stance clearer.
Arrange a call with one of our documentation to discuss this on 01455 858 132.
“The employee will receive time and a half pay when working bank holidays”
Staff will rightfully expect a higher rate of pay if you have a clause such as this in your contract. We would recommend following your existing policy on pay when working bank holidays. If you don’t, you risk a drop in productivity and could damage the relationship between yourself and your employees. Failing to pay an employee what they are owed by contract is an unlawful deduction of wages and a breach of contract – so it is vital you get this right!
Get support with leave & absence from HR experts
The Queen’s state funeral will be a national bank holiday. However, there is no legal reason for employees to take an additional day off because of this. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t grant it.
Before making a decision, look at your existing policies and contracts. If you’re still uncertain how to approach the bank holiday, seek external advice.
Our HR advisors are on standby 24/7 to take your call. Our documentation experts work with employment contracts every day, and help thousands of businesses stay legally compliant. Get immediate advice today on 01455 858 132.
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