The government announced on Saturday that the day of the late Queen Elizabeth’s funeral (19th September) will be a bank holiday, in order to make it easier for people to take part in acts of remembrance. But does that actually mean you have the right to request that day off? And how will it impact your existing holiday allowance?
How it usually works
There are usually eight bank holidays per year in England, and that is why workers in England receive 28 days’ statutory holiday per year – 20 days is the minimum required by European law, and the extra eight days are provided by the UK government to provide workers with paid leave on bank holidays*.
Many businesses close on bank holidays, so their workers will have the day off whether they wish to or not and a day will be deducted from their annual leave. Many will have contracts which either give them the right to request the day off or automatically require them to take those days as holidays.
But there is no legal right to have bank holidays as days off. If you work for a business that is open on bank holidays, unless you have negotiated a contract which gives you the right not to work on a bank holiday, you would have to request this leave as usual.
You must give the employer twice as much notice as the length of leave you wish to take – so two days’ notice for a day’s leave (though this requirement can be changed by your contract of employment). But your employer can refuse your request and/or require you to take the leave on a different day.
How will it work for this new holiday?
The new holiday will be the same as any other bank holiday, so whether or not you can automatically take it off will require you to check your employment contract and discuss with your employer.
One key difference is that the government has not given employees an extra day’s paid leave. Workers are still only entitled to a total of 28 days total leave. This creates a problem for workers who have already used up their annual leave entitlement – whilst they may be permitted to take a day off, they do not have the right to do so, as a matter of statute law their employer does not have to pay them for the day off.
Some workers will have a contract that entitles them to a day’s paid leave on public holidays, but for those who do not, any time off on 19th September 2022 will need to come out of their statutory 28 day-entitlement.
Hopefully employers will be flexible on this – but make sure you ask your employer how they will deal with this one-off holiday, so that you know where you stand.
*It should be noted that only workers, and not those classed as self-employed contractors, are entitled to paid time off. If you are not sure which category you fall into, please contact us for free advice – many people who are told they are ‘contractors’ are, in fact, workers.