The government has decided to make her funeral date 19th September 2022 a bank holiday.

This means schools are closing; court dates and appointments cancelled, but what if your business or employer cant close or permit staff to work remotely? What do you do if you are a parent and the schools have closed and you need to work? Businesses won’t want to attract criticism for being unable to allow their staff time off, but with such short notice what are they permitted to do lawfully and what are employee rights?

Legal entitlement

There is, by law though, no statutory entitlement to time off for bank holidays, including this grave day. Employers can state in an employee’s contract that bank holidays do form part of an employee’s annual leave entitlement and many working Monday to Friday will do so, but that is not the case for everyone , like for example retail , civil servants and other sectors that need 7 days a week coverage this will not be the case.
How do you know if you can take this day off? Well first you would review your employment contract and any holiday / leave policies in place. What does it say specifically about bank holidays, are they included in the entitlement? Now the interesting technical aspect is does it state ‘bank holidays’ or does it say 8 days bank holidays? The contractual right to be off and paid maybe present, but what about this new ‘9th’ day is that covered? In this case, based on strict contractual law, the employee does not have the contractual right to time off for this date.

This means you need to approach the employer and see if you can agree time off or perhaps see if you can change rota with other staff as this will all be entirely discretionary. Obviously, employees could also request this as annual leave deducted or suggest unpaid leave but this is again is at the discretion of the employer and subject to the needs of the business.
Working Parents
As we know many of the schools are closing giving parents now limited time to arrange childcare . Ass such employers will need to be careful not to discriminate in its decisions for leave or remote working or otherwise. Being a parent is not a protected characteristic but if you prejudice a gender inadvertently as result this could have consequences . So men and women should be given the same consideration for leave at this time. This could also be said the same for age if many of your younger staff need time for childcare , as oppose to more seasoned staff – juggling how employers approach this means caution and sensitivity .

Forced to work

Can your employer force you to work Monday 19th September – the short answer is if you have no contractual right to leave, as above, yes they can and failure to work would be a breach of contract and potentially gross misconduct allowing them to terminate your position or give them a reason for a written warning . If however, the contact affords you this time off , the employer would be in breach of contract and this would enable the employee to issue a grievance or potentially a claim if denied. So , reviewing the legal documents is key as well as communication with your employer.

Businesses , employers , parents , employees have all faced so much over recent years and communication , policies and consideration to each others needs is vital on both sides. Many businesses need to stay operational to get back on their feet and they may not be able to give its staff time off so talking to each other may enable both employers and employees to find a happy medium