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Monday 19 September has been confirmed as the date of the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II. But where do you stand in relation to giving staff the day off?

A record-breaking reign is notable for many reasons, but one much-commented-on consequence of the sad death of the Queen is that all of us under 70, in every walk of life, are experiencing this for the first time. For all the meticulous (and hugely impressive) planning that has gone into our current state of mourning, we’re all essentially working out what happens next as we go.

Take the Queen’s forthcoming funeral. On Saturday, King Charles proclaimed it a bank holiday. Coming on the back of this summer’s jubilee, that will bring the total during 2022 to ten. As an employer, how should you manage this?

Check wording of employee contracts

The first step in such matters should be to revisit the contracts of your people. The key consideration here is whether annual leave is stated as inclusive or exclusive of bank holidays.

If, for example, staff leave is stated as being: “25 days plus bank holidays” or similar, the matter is simple. Monday’s bank holiday is included within your people’s contracts as paid leave.

Where, however, leave is described as being “33 days inclusive of bank holidays” the additional day would (contractually, at least) be included within each person’s already allocated leave allowance. Without action, Monday’s bank holiday would be deducted from that allowance.

And that’s only if you, as employer, choose to give your people the day off.

Does your business have to close for the bank holiday?

No. Many businesses, of course, don’t (or can’t) close for bank holidays and Monday will likely be no different. But this isn’t an ordinary bank holiday. While it’s reasonable to assume some staff will be largely unmoved by events of recent days, others may have been deeply affected.

As the government wrote in its guidance for employers, “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.”

The guidance makes it clear that the details of any decision lie with employers. Here are some things you might like to consider:

  • Where bank holidays are already included in annual leave calculations, award an additional day’s leave to ensure staff benefit from the extra bank holiday.
  • If staff are required to work the bank holiday, consider what (if any) additional pay or time in lieu will be awarded.
  • Where leave has already been booked for the Monday, consider making up the leave allowance to account for the bank holiday.
  • Where you need some staff to work the bank holiday, consider a ballot, or ask those least interested in the funeral to cover for those with greatest interest.
  • Where staff are required to be in work, consider letting them watch the funeral if they express a wish to do so, subject to ensuring customers/clients are served and work gets done.

BACS deadlines

As the funeral takes place mid-month, a reminder that organisations with mid-month payroll deadlines may need to make urgent adjustments to timescales and/or communicate any delay in pay to those affected.

For help in managing your payroll, talk to us.