The Royal Funeral bank holiday - what employers need to know


Like many around the world, we were saddened to hear of the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

The Royal Funeral will take place on 19 September 2022 and, as expected, this has been declared a bank holiday.  It will be an event of major historical interest, as well as an opportunity to express sorrow at her passing.     

The Government has issued a Press Release which encourages employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off.  It recognises that there is no statutory entitlement to time off: leave and pay entitlements depend on the wording of each individual's employment contract and arrangements are to be discussed between employers and their employees.  

In terms of contractual provisions, if the contract states that staff are entitled to:

  • X days' holiday plus bank and public holidays as paid holiday, the employer will most likely need to give them the day off and pay them holiday pay in the usual way;
  • X days paid holiday plus 8 bank and public holidays (the usual number of holidays per annum), the employer may not be strictly obliged to let them have the additional bank holiday day off, although it may want to consider doing so particularly if it usually closes for bank holidays;
  • X days' paid holiday per year including all bank and public holidays, the employer won't be obliged to give staff an additional day off, but could allow them to to take the day off (whether as part of their current holiday entitlement, an additional paid holiday or unpaid leave), or even require them to take a day's paid holiday on that day from their leave entitlement, providing that it gave them the required notice (twice as long as the period of holiday it wants them to take);
  • X days' holiday per year including bank holidays but may be required to work on bank holidays, the employer is not required to give them an extra day's holiday if they are required to work on 19 September (but, again, may choose to do so or indeed require them to take day off by giving the appropriate notice). 

If your business decides to recognise the holiday as an additional day of annual leave for your staff, be clear that this is an exceptional entitlement and make sure you consider the entitlements of those not scheduled to work on the day, such as part-time workers or those on sick or family friendly leave.

The bank holiday has been scheduled to allow individuals and businesses the opportunity to pay their respects to the Queen and commemorate her reign and employers will want to respond sensitively to requests for time off.  

Employers will need to look at their own employment contracts carefully (and if necessary take advice) and consider both their legal obligations and how feasible it will be for them to operate as normal on 19 September, when many businesses will be closed.  There are also practical considerations - with schools and childcare settings closed and public transport in many locations likely to be limited, staff may not be able to attend work. 

We would recommend that employers take a pragmatic approach, balancing business needs against staff morale and goodwill, and consider the potential unwanted attention particularly if they are out of step with others in their sector.  

This is of course the second extraordinary bank holiday this year.  The Government has yet to decide whether the Coronation of King Charles III, which is likely to take place in 2023, will be declared a bank holiday.


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