At present, there are 8 bank holidays per year in England and Wales. Following the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, it has been announced that the day of her funeral – Monday 19 September – will be a national bank holiday for the whole of the UK.
Does this mean that all workers are entitled to have the day off ? In short the answer is no, it depends on the agreement between the worker and the employer.
Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.5 weeks paid holiday a year; this is the equivalent to 28 days per year. Interestingly, there is no statutory right to time off for a bank holiday, this means that employers can choose to include bank holidays as part of a workers’ annual leave entitlement and the contract will make this clear by setting out the annual leave entitlement and whether it is inclusive or exclusive of bank holidays. For a full time worker, the minimum annual leave which they are entitled to would be 20 annual leave days plus 8 bank holiday days (a total of 28 days).
When workers have to work on a bank holiday, for example in the hospitality industry or in a hospital / care home setting, the employer may allow the worker to take another day of in lieu or pay a higher hourly rate for the work performed on the bank holiday. Once again, this is very much up to the employer.
Although it will be in the gift of the employer as to whether to allow its workers the day off for the Queen’s funeral, it would no doubt be a PR disaster (even in terms of its own workforce) if it were not allowed.