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Earlier this week, King Charles III announced a bank holiday on Monday 19th September, the day of his mother’s funeral, as a mark of respect, and to give people the opportunity to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate her reign.
Since that announcement, we’ve already had a number of calls to our Legal Assistance Helpline (LAH) from employers unsure of their rights and responsibilities for the day, here is an overview of the legal perspective.
There is no legal obligation for a nursery to close on bank holidays. Ultimately, it will be a commercial decision for the nursery in question.
In relation to parents and payments, it’s important to check the contract and in particular the definition of bank holidays. If bank holidays are referred to with no additional definition, then Monday’s bank holiday can be treated in the same way as any others throughout the year and depending on what happens on a normal bank holiday, nurseries may be able to charge if they close.
If bank holidays are defined, i.e., named as the usual eight throughout the year then Monday’s bank holiday will not be considered under this definition and will need to be treated as a normal day in relation to payments, therefore nurseries won’t be able to charge if they decide to close.
For the vast majority of employees, there is no automatic right to have paid time off on bank holidays. Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave per year, inclusive of bank holidays. Employers are free to decide if they want to allow employees to use that leave entitlement on bank holidays or not. The amount of leave is important, not when it takes place.
It’s important that employers check their contract wordings carefully. If bank holidays are referred to with no additional definition, Monday 19th September can be treated in the same way as any other bank holiday. Typically, this will mean the employees will accrue an additional days’ annual leave.
If bank holidays are defined, i.e., named as the usual eight throughout the year, Monday’s bank holiday will not be caught by the definition and typically this will mean it will need to be treated as a normal day. It will be up to the business if they want to honour an extra day or require employees to work as normal.
All employers have a duty to act reasonably towards employees and if there are requests for time off, we would recommend that requests are treated sympathetically. Ultimately, a balancing act must be taken but where there is justification the needs of a business may be treated with higher priority.
Michael Jenkins, Head of Legal Advice, Arc Legal Group
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