Do you have to give employees the day off on a bank holiday?

Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the government has announced a National Day of Mourning and bank holiday on Monday 19th September. For the 2nd time this year, this is an extra bank holiday to the standard…

Blog14th Sep 2022

Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the government has announced a National Day of Mourning and bank holiday on Monday 19th September.

For the 2nd time this year, this is an extra bank holiday to the standard 8 days with this one, for the Queen’s funeral, being announced at understandably short notice. This can cause disruption for employers whose business continues to operate as normal through bank holidays and leaves little time for planning in managing time off for employee.

We often get asked a lot of questions from clients as to what their obligations are to their employees in respect of additional bank holidays.

Do you have to give employees the day off on a bank holiday?

This will depend on what it says in your contracts of employment. There could be many variations and sub clauses on how and when leave is taken but the first port of call is how you refer to bank holidays in your contracts. Broadly speaking, it is either written that employees are “entitled to X days holiday per year plus bank holiday” or “entitled to a total of X days including 8 bank holidays”. If you have the former, then employees will be entitled to taking Monday off as part of their entitlement. If they have the latter, they are not automatically entitled to this additional bank holiday day as leave.

What if an employee is entitled to the bank holiday but I need them to work?

This will partly depend, again, on what is written in the employee’s contract but if there is no provision in the contract to state that an employee may be required to work on a bank holiday (with a day off in lieu), then your option is to ask the employee if they will agree to work the bank holiday and offer another day off in lieu or for additional pay such as overtime.

It is important to remember that the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the significant and extended social media and news coverage may affect some of your employees in a number of ways, particularly where they may have recently lost someone close to them. If you have an Employee Assistance Programme in place, it would be a good idea to remind employees of this and how they can access the service and provide any other support that you can, at what can be a very difficult time.

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