Government asks employers for ‘sensitivity’ over Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral bank holiday

Monday September 19th 2022 has been declared a bank holiday by the government, so individuals can pay their respects on the day of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Bank holidays can cause havoc for umbrella companies, their payroll systems and even contractors themselves, as happened around the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

But the outpouring of grief at the Queen’s death on Thursday afternoon has been so significant that updates from the contractor sector have been solely concerned with paying tribute to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

'Great sadness'

The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association said: “It is with great sadness that we mark the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“For eight decades Her Majesty was a beacon of leadership, duty and respect. We pass our deepest condolences to King Charles and the Royal Family.”

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed said: “The passing of Her Majesty The Queen is a deeply sad moment in history. We send our thoughts and condolences to the Royal Family.”

'Cancelled until further notice'

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation issued a similar message but is going one step further by suspending some of its future activities out of respect.

“The passing of Her Majesty the Queen is a profound and sad moment in the history of our nation. All our lives have been touched by the Queen’s service and dedication, and her passing is a moment to reflect on her achievement of her long reign.

“As a mark of respect, we are cancelling our external engagements and publications until further notice,” the REC said.

'Discuss the bank holiday with your employer'

According to the government notice declaring next Monday a bank holiday, there is no statutory entitlement to time off, but employers may include the bank holiday as part of a worker’s leave entitlement.

So whether an individual can have the day off work, “is a matter for discussion” between the individual and their employer.

The same “matter for discussion between you and your employer” answer is given on four additional occasions by the government, in a FAQs section on the bank holiday, which is not due to be an annual bank holiday.

'Government expects employers to respond sensitively'

“The government cannot interfere in existing contractual arrangements”, says the notice.

“However, we would expect that many workers will be able to take the day off on the bank holiday. We also expect employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take the day of the funeral off work.”

Reaction from business-owners, workers and experts to the Queen’s death at age 96 indicates that many individuals will want to take the day off work for the funeral, which is due to be held at Westminster Abbey.

'Queen did exactly what she said would do 70 years ago'

Matt Nicholson, managing director at recruitment agency Impactive IT posted on Friday: “Waking up today just felt different. Yesterday the world was hit with the news that our beautiful Queen had passed away.

“She did exactly what she said she was going to do 70 years ago, and served us until the very day she died. It feels like a part within me has died, and [although I realised] that this would inevitably happen, I never believe it would”.

Rebecca Seeley Harris, of ReLegal Consulting echoed how unbelievably personal the loss of the nation’s figurehead feels.

"It's not something I can explain but, I feel personally bereaved,” the lawyer admitted. “With everything that is going on in the world, she was the one constant. I will miss her and everything that she stood for. RIP your Majesty.”

'Part of the UK's fabric for more than seven decades'

Perhaps Susan Ball, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation had one of the best explanations.

“[The Queen] has been an integral part of the context and fabric of life in the United Kingdom for more than seven decades,” Ms Ball wrote. “And has served with a sense of duty and dedication that is truly exceptional.”

The many historical achievements of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor since she came to the throne in 1952 have been broadcast, streamed and reported on, since her death last week.

'Rest in peace'

But it is the Queen’s actions in the last few weeks, months and even days of her life which resonate to many the strongest.

One LinkedIn user wrote: “It is so very sad to hear about the death of Her Majesty The Queen, having [been on our screens just a few days ago with her usual twinkle in her eye] appointing no less than her 15th prime minister – Lizz Truss.”

Another of the website’s users, a legal expert reflected: “When I heard of HRH Queen Elizabeth II's passing, all I could think of was this passage from Her Majesty's speech about covid-19.

‘We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’ May she rest in peace.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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