Handling the period of national mourning in your business
Last week the nation received the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died.
After 70 years of loyal service to the UK and the Commonwealth, the nation is in mourning for our dedicated and faithful figurehead.
Earlier this week it was announced that the State Funeral will take place on Monday 19th September, and the day has been declared a national bank holiday. This is to allow individuals, businesses, and other organisations time to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate her reign.
What does this mean for your business?
The bank holiday will operate in the same way that other bank holidays operate in the UK. As an employer, it is at your discretion whether you close your business for the day or give employees time off.
There is no statutory entitlement to time off for bank holidays, but you should refer to employee contracts to determine whether you are obliged to pay them for the additional day off.
For example, if your contracts state 20 days annual leave, plus bank holidays, you will be expected to pay for this additional time off.
If your contracts detail the number of bank holidays, however, you will not be obliged to pay for the extra holiday. Instead, if you decide to close your business, employees could take the day from their annual leave entitlement or take a day off unpaid if you are not able to pay them as a gesture of goodwill.
Our advice would be to think carefully about how you handle payment for this additional bank holiday.
Should you close your business?
Your employees may all have different thoughts and feelings on the passing of the Queen. Some may be more affected than others, so it’s important that you take this into account when deciding whether your business will close on the 19th of September.
We would encourage you to participate in the day if you can. While there will be a cost to your business to close for a day, failing to do so will also come at a cost, and that may be greater if you experience a negative reaction from your valued employees.
A feeling of resentment from your employees may have a long-term negative impact on your business, and you may also find that people call in sick on the day anyway. Weigh up the pros and cons for your own business before you make your decision.
Supporting your employees
Your people are likely to react differently to the loss of our Queen, and as an employer it’s important you remember that no reaction is a wrong reaction.
If you feel that any employee needs additional support at this time, refer them to the helpline attached to your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) if you have one. If not, direct your employee to Cruse bereavement support which offer support and advice on dealing with grief.
This is a historical moment that may have a big impact on your people, so it’s important that your business handles it with the care and sensitivity it deserves.
If you feel you need more support or advice on how your business deals with the period of national mourning, or anything else, please get in touch with us.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family.