Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September 2022, the UK is now in a period of mourning. At the weekend, King Charles III confirmed that the Queen’s funeral would be on Monday 19th September and declared this day a public bank holiday.

But, what does this mean for employers?

Does my business have to close?

Public organisations, including schools, will be closed. However, private organisations will not be forced to close. As such, it is up to businesses to decide what they do.

If I do decide to close, are my employees entitled to paid time off?

This all depends on what is written in your contract of employment.

If your contract states ‘you are entitled to X amount of annual leave days + bank holidays’ and fails to stipulate the number of bank holidays covered, then you will be contractually obliged to allow paid time off on this day.

However, if your contract states ‘you are entitled to X amount of annual leave days + the usual 8 bank holidays’, then you are not obliged to give this additional period of paid leave.

You may, of course, decide that you are going to close and that you will give all employee’s paid time off, irrespective of their contractual entitlements. If you decide to do this, then part time employees are entitled to a pro rata amount (including those who do not work a Monday).

For some businesses it will not be financially viable to offer additional holidays to all. If this is the case, then you could ask your employees to take the time off, using their existing annual leave entitlement. Employers can enforce this, by giving double the amount of notice for the duration of the leave. So, 2 days’ notice would be required to enforce 1 days’ leave. This means that you could inform your employees on the Wednesday that they are not required to work on the Monday, and that 1 day’s holiday entitlement will be deducted from their annual leave entitlement.

You could also give it as unpaid leave, but the employee would need to give consent.

What if I decide to stay open?

If you decide to stay open on this day, then it will be a normal working day for all.

Anyone who wishes to take time off, should follow your normal holiday request procedure. Any time off will be deducted from their annual leave entitlement.

What other implications may there be?

Some employees may be emotional affected by the Queen’s death, so it is important to be sympathetic here. The public coverage of this event may also trigger associated memories and feelings for those that have suffered a bereavement in the past. Make time to talk to your employees and highlight your EAP scheme, if you have one.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us.