Next week’s additional bank holiday – your questions answered

Next week’s additional bank holiday – your questions answered

Queen Elizabeth’s State funeral on Monday 19 September has been declared a bank holiday. However, this additional bank holiday has left many people unsure about their rights as to whether they can take this holiday and if they will get paid or not. Below are some questions and answers that might help to alleviate the head-scratching.

How many bank/public holidays are there in a normal year?

Eight. New Year’s day; the first Monday in May; Good Friday; Easter Monday; the last Monday in May; the last Monday in August; Christmas Day and Boxing Day. England and Wales have the lowest number of bank holidays in Europe. Scotland has the same bank holidays as England but with one additional bank holiday on St Andrew’s Day. This year is unique as not only do we have a bank holiday for the Queen’s State funeral, but we had a bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Does my employer have to let me have the day off on a bank holiday?

No. There is no statutory entitlement to time off for bank holidays but employers often include bank holidays as part of a worker’s leave entitlement, which provides for a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave. You should first look at your contract of employment and see what that says about holidays. Most employers are making an exception and granting an additional day’s leave. But note that an employer could argue that the bank holiday is part of your entitlement and not an additional day off.

What does the government say?

The government has issued guidance in relation to the bank holiday for the Queen’s State funeral, which states that they expect employers to ‘respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take the day of the funeral off work’. The guidance also states that whether or not staff are given the day off is a ‘matter for discussion between individuals and their employer’.  

If I work a bank holiday, am I entitled to enhanced pay?

No, not unless this is provided for in your contract of employment but most employers seem to be paying for the unexpected bank holiday.

My children’s school is closed and my employer won’t give me time off for the bank holiday, what can I do?

You may be able to ask that you be given time off to care for dependents. Under the law, you have the right to a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with emergencies involving dependents. Due to the unexpected suddenness of this additional bank holiday, most people won’t be able to organise childcare and this could be construed as an emergency. You can make this request but note that it is unpaid.

Are there likely to be any more bank holidays in relation to the Queen’s death?

The government has yet to confirm this, but there may be a bank holiday for King Charles’ Coronation. However, this is unlikely to be before the end of the year.

This post was written by Anita Vadgama, Partner, and Jack Dooley, Trainee Solicitor at didlaw.