State funeral bank holiday – HR considerations

Source: Practice Index


After 70 years in her role as Monarch, Her Majesty The Queen sadly passed away last week, and it was announced that we would enter an official period of mourning. After ascending to the throne, His Majesty King Charles III, made a Royal Proclamation that the day of his mother’s funeral would be a bank holiday (Monday 19th September). As a result, we are now faced with the unusual situation of an unexpected bank holiday being announced part way through the year. We asked our HR Advisor Dianne what the contractual position on bank holidays is, and she had this to say:

“The state funeral bank holiday does not mean that all employers are obliged to close for the day or give everyone a day off work. However, it may be that some employment contracts entitle employees to be paid for an additional bank holiday, whether they take that particular day off or not. You will also need to consider what your employment contracts say on the matter of bank holidays.

If your employment contract gives an overall holiday entitlement, but without any additional entitlement to bank holidays, this means that any bank holidays taken off work are deducted from the overall entitlement. In this scenario, it’s entirely at the employer’s discretion whether or not to give an additional day on 19th September. You may decide not to close on that day or you may require people who want to take the day off to deduct it from their overall entitlement.

Where the employment contract states that the employee is entitled to all bank holidays, with no restrictions on the number. For example, it may say ‘you are entitled to 20 days annual leave plus bank holidays’. In such instances, the employee is entitled to take the 19th September off work and be paid. If you did require staff to work on the day, they would need to be paid overtime or to be given the opportunity to take the day off at some other time.

Where the contract states the employee is entitled to bank holidays but limits the number by either stating that it would be e.g. eight or nine in the year, or by referring to the ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ bank holidays (which is eight in England and Wales, nine in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland). Some contracts may even list the actual bank holidays e.g. Good Friday, Easter Monday, etc. In this case it is up to the employer whether to grant an additional paid bank holiday on 19th September.

Even if there is no contractual right to the extra bank holiday, you could decide to give the extra day as a gesture of goodwill. Alternatively, you may still decide to close on 19th September 2022, without giving an extra day’s holiday. If you plan to do this, you must give notice to the employees, and let them know that they must use a day of their annual entitlement to cover the day.

Finally, and most importantly, if you do give the bank holiday as paid time off, you must ensure your part-time staff (and those that work a-typical hours) are treated fairly and receive a pro-rata entitlement to the bank holiday. This includes staff who may not normally work on a Monday.”

Additionally, Dianne suggested that we consider how changes to bank holidays are dealt with in general.

“It’s helpful to have a protocol in place for how you will deal with additional bank holidays, especially where they are created at short notice. This will ensure that staff know their entitlements and what to expect. In a year where we have had two Bank Holidays over and above the “normal”, but for very different reasons, the questions from staff about how this affects their entitlement will have been numerous for most employers. The short notice addition of a bank holiday for the State Funeral means that, depending on your contracts, some staff may need to “top-up” their bank holiday allowance to be able to take the day off if you are closing; or as a business you may find that you suddenly have a number of staff with additional pro-rata leave to fit in before the end of the holiday year.

It is also possible that there will be a bank holiday for King Charles’s coronation and, depending on when your holiday year starts and finishes, this may fall within your current holiday year. Another additional bank holiday may mean that you will need to consider how this might affect your staff.”

Click here for the source.