Queen’s Funeral and Bank Holiday 19 September – Q&A for nurseries
The Government announced the date of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will be Monday 19 September and will be a Bank Holiday.
Today the Department for Education has issued guidance for educational settings regarding the closure.
Scottish Government issued this guidance.
Welsh Government has said opening is down to the discretion of individual settings.
It’s vital your setting makes a decision about whether you will be opening or closing on Monday and also to communicate that to your staff and parents as soon as you can.
We know you will have lots to think about so we have pulled together some common questions to help you make those decisions:
1. Do I need to close for the Bank Holiday?
Whether a nursery business remains open or closed is a discretionary matter. Schools will be closed but early years settings can decide for themselves.
However, it’s worth considering views of parents and staff. Some parents will still be working on 19 September especially key workers. If you have a lot of parents that need to work and so could have high demand you might want to consider opening with reduced capacity.
2. If I close, can I ask parents to pay their fees as usual?
This will depend on your agreements with parents and we would always advise speaking to NDNA’s legal helpline if you are unsure. It will be a decision for you based on what you normally do for Bank Holidays. You might want to consider whether you could give an extra session at a later date. Many parents will already have paid for the month.
3. Can I remain open for the Bank Holiday?
Yes it is discretionary, it’s up to the employer to decide whether to open or close. However you will need to look at your staff contracts. If unsure, contact the legal helpline.
Consider views of your staff who may want to watch the funeral. Also if schools are closed, that could reduce the numbers of staff you can call upon to work in your setting.
4. Do I need to pay staff if we close?
Check your staff agreements because if you decide to close for the Bank Holiday, your staff will be entitled to pay as agreed in their contracts. There is no statutory right to have the Bank Holiday off. If you need legal advice, ring our legal helpline.
5. What happens with funded children who usually attend on the day of the funeral?
For all arrangements to do with funded children, please contact your local authority. The Department for Education has confirmed that providers should not be penalised for being closed during the Bank Holiday when it comes to funded children’s places.
6. My nursery is in central London, will we be affected by the funeral arrangements?
The Queen’s coffin will be transported from RAF Northolt on Tuesday 13 September to London and from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Huge crowds are expected to line the routes through London.
On the day of the funeral, London will also see enormous numbers of visitors and well wishers. Consider how your staff and parents will be able to access your nursery. Some nurseries and schools in Edinburgh have been closed today.
Legal perspective of opening/closing on the new Bank Holiday from our legal helpline:
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 is important to check the contract and in particular the definition of bank holidays. If bank holidays are referred to with no additional definition then the bank holiday can be treated in the same way as any other bank holiday (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 8 throughout the year then this one will not be caught by the definition and will need to be treated as a normal day in relation to payments (nurseries won’t be able to charge if they decide to close).
In relation to employees, again the definition will be important in the contract.
If bank holidays are referred to with no additional definition then the bank holiday can be treated in the same way as any other bank holiday. Employees could still be required to work on the day but they will need to provide an additional day for the employee to take using their normal annual leave procedure.
If bank holidays are defined i.e. named as the usual 8 throughout the year then this one will not be caught by the definition and 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 has to be taken but where there is justification the needs of a business may be treated with higher priority.