Employer’s guide to the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day

Can you ask your staff to work? How much do you need to pay them? Here’s what you need to know…

26 September 2022 has been designated as a one-off public holiday to commemorate the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The official name of the holiday is Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day (QEII Memorial Day for short).

The legislation for QEII Memorial Day will be passed next week – which doesn’t give employers much time to prepare.


At this stage we’re assuming that the standard rules relating to public holidays will come into force. But if the new legislation for QEII Memorial Day is different in any way, we’ll provide updated information on this page. So please bookmark this page and keep checking back.

First things first: determine whether 26 September is an ‘otherwise working day’ for every employee

To know where you stand with regards to QEII Memorial Day, you need to know for each employee if that date is an ‘otherwise working day’ for them or not. That will affect whether you can ask them to work, and how much to pay them.

In some cases, it’ll be very clear whether 26 September is an ‘otherwise working day’ or not. But if it’s not so clear, you need to consider:

  • What is says in the individual employment agreement.
  • Your employee’s usual work patterns.
  • If the employee only works for you when you have work available for them.
  • Your roster (or other similar system).
  • The reasonable expectations both you and the employee have as to whether the employee would have worked on that day.
  • If your employee normally would have worked that day if it wasn’t a holiday, or if the employee isn’t on sick or bereavement leave.

Note that you and your employee must consider ALL of the factors above when reaching an agreement: you can’t rely on just one of these points.

Can I ask an employee to work on QEII Memorial Day?

You can certainly ask your employees to work on QEII Memorial Day. But you can’t force them to work that day unless:

  • 26 September is an ‘otherwise working day’ for that employee; and
  • The employee’s employment agreement requires them to work on public holidays.

Many employment agreements have a catch-all clause relating to public holidays, saying that employees are required to work on a public holiday, and will do so if asked.

However, if the employment agreement doesn’t have a catch-all clause, or if 26 September isn’t an ‘otherwise working day’, you cannot force/insist that your employee works that day. You can still ask them, but they don’t have to accept.

(Sidenote: If you’re concerned your employment agreements aren’t as good as they could be, we’re happy to review them for free. Just get in touch.)

How much do I pay my employees for QEII Memorial Day?

How much you pay your employee depends on a few factors – here’s a guide for each scenario:

(a) The employee works on QEII Memorial Day

In this instance, the employee is entitled to the greater of their relevant daily pay or average daily pay for the time worked – plus half that amount again. In other words, they get paid time-and-a-half.

Also, if the employee works on any part of 26 September, and that day was NOT an ‘otherwise working day’ for them, they’re also entitled to an alternative day off – i.e. a day in lieu. That’s in addition to their payment for working on 26 September.

(b) The employee doesn’t work – even though it was an ‘otherwise working day’

Even though the employee hasn’t worked on an ‘otherwise working day’, they are still entitled to payment at not less than their relevant daily pay or average daily pay for that day.

(c) The employee doesn’t work – but it’s not an ‘otherwise working day’

The employee isn’t entitled to any payment under the Holidays Act in this scenario.

Does it matter if I get things wrong?

Yes – it matters if you get things wrong, even if you didn’t mean to.

If an employee (or ex-employee) is incorrectly paid for a public holiday, you could be held liable for the amount owed plus interest. And there may also be other penalties to pay. So this is definitely something you need to get right.

Do you need additional help or guidance?

Our experienced team of HR professionals has over 128 years’ collective experience. So if you need some prompt help or customised guidance, please get in touch.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business.