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Gloucestershire Business News

Monday, September 19: Your obligations as an employer - Jenny Hawrot of Willans LLP

By Jenny Hawrot, partner in employment law at Willans LLP 

Following the announcement that Monday, September 19 will be a public holiday for the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, employers may wish to consider their position on giving employees paid time off or closing their business.

Under the Working Time Regulations, all employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave per year, and bank holidays can count towards this if they are paid. However, there is no statutory obligation to give your employees paid time off on bank holidays, or to close your business.

Whether or not your employees are entitled to paid time off for Her Majesty's funeral is entirely dictated by your employment contracts and how they are worded. You may have a contractual obligation to give your employees an additional day of paid leave to account for an additional public holiday.

How do I know if I have a contractual obligation or not?

If your employment contracts grant a specific number of days'/weeks' holiday per year, plus 'all' or 'the' bank and public holidays, you have a contractual obligation to give your employees an additional day of paid holiday for Monday, September 19.

On the other hand, you would have no contractual obligation if your employment contracts grant the following:

  • a specific number of days'/weeks' holiday every year, in total, or inclusive of 'all' or 'the' bank and public holidays,
  • a specific number of days'/weeks' holiday every year, inclusive of 'the usual' bank and public holidays,
  • a specific number of days'/weeks' holiday every year, plus 'the usual' bank and public holidays.

If you are an employer and you're unsure of your contractual obligations, make sure to check the wording of your employment contracts.

Other important considerations

It's also worth noting that if your employment contracts express a holiday entitlement inclusive of bank holidays, and you choose to close on September 19, the employee would have to take that day out of their 5.6 weeks' annual entitlement and would be entitled to be paid for that day.

The consequence would be that they would then have fewer paid leave days to take for the rest of the year. If they have already taken all their annual holiday entitlement, then you probably have no option but to treat September 19 as an additional day's paid holiday.

The exception to this would be if the employee leaves before the end of the holiday year, in which case you may be able to deduct a day's excess holiday pay from their final salary.

Even if you don't have a contractual obligation to give your employees an extra day's paid leave, this doesn't prevent you from closing your business (if commercially possible) and giving an extra day's paid leave as a one-off. Indeed, this may be the sensible thing to do to maintain positive employee relations. 

There is, of course, also a PR aspect to bear in mind, since going against the consensus may not reflect well on your business.

If you do choose to close your business, you will need to give your employees appropriate notice, (two days' notice for one day's leave) if you require them to take a day's holiday out of their annual entitlement - even if you have no contractual obligation to allow your employees time off for the additional bank holiday. Be sure to act quickly and give the correct notice in time to enforce this.

Should you need any help or guidance on employment contracts or your obligations as an employer, Willans' employment law team would be happy to help.

Please get in touch with Jenny Hawrot on jenny.hawrot@willans.co.uk or 01242 541566.

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