HR consideration following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the State Funeral plans

On 8 September 2022, Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Detailed arrangements were made long in advance and have been regularly reviewed and updated to ensure appropriate protocols were in place to manage the period which now follows. As with any major public event, there are often wide-bearing impacts on businesses and employers, with many having questions on how to proceed.

The day of the Queen’s funeral has been declared a public holiday in the form of a Day of National Mourning; this has now been confirmed as Monday 19th September 2022.

During this current period of national mourning, it’s unlikely private organisations will have to close. Many businesses may choose to close or reduce their working hours as a mark of respect, but there will be no obligation to do so.

Some banks may close or operate on reduced hours. Public sector organisations, such as schools and local government authorities, may close and sporting events, cinemas and theatres may be temporarily suspended. It’s expected the government will confirm exact details of which settings are affected.

Businesses who choose to close will likely have to do so as paid leave; it is rare for there to be a contractual clause which allows organisations to close and not provide any pay to affected employees. The business has a choice to give their teams the extra day holiday.  Alternatively, employers can enforce annual leave, as long as they give the correct notice to do so (this is double the amount of notice for the duration of the leave, e.g., two days’ notice is needed to enforce one day of annual leave).

Recognising that the Queen’s death may be a difficult time for many is key in providing effective support for employees. Even those who are not fans of the Royal Family may be affected by her death due to associated memories and feelings that may re-surface. An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can provide professional counselling and support, to allow employees to effectively manage bereavement and trauma. Additionally, introducing trained mental health first aiders allows organisations to identify individuals who may be struggling with their emotional wellbeing, and signpost them to helpful resources.

We are available to advise you if you have any questions.