Official national mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has begun. Read this guide to changes in workplaces, building maintenance, and personnel that facilities managers will need to consider.
In what’s being described as “a unique national moment”, the mourning period will continue until the end of the day of the State Funeral on 19 September, and businesses may wish to implement adaptations to their day-to-day operations this week.
Visible Construction or Maintenance Work
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the period of mourning and has published specific advice for the construction and building services industries.
It states: “There is no precedent for the death of a monarch within the life of anyone working in the UK construction industry, and as such, it is likely to raise significant questions from businesses about how they should respond.”
The CLC urges businesses to carefully consider the nature of construction work on the day of the State Funeral, particularly within Central London. Activities at times or locations where large crowds are likely to gather to pay their respects should be avoided.
For essential works, organisations should ensure that planned work is reviewed to take the mourning period and State Funeral into account, and also to consider the number of people gathering and pressure on the transport system.
Service Personnel May be Called to Volunteer in Ceremonial Events
The CLC also reminds businesses that, if they employ workers who also work in the armed forces reserves, or voluntary services such as Saint John’s Ambulance, they may be asked to support the State Funeral or other planned events:
“Businesses will need to understand their obligations in this area and should consider proactively offering paid volunteering time for those who either have obligations or who are keen to volunteer.”
Project Delivery Impact
Facilities managers should also keep in mind the realistic impact of the mourning period on project delivery over the next fortnight. The CLC is looking to develop guidance in this area, on how best to manage the impact on cost and time where projects are impacted
Organisations should work closely with their clients and suppliers and communicate openly about any changes required to working hours or operations.
Flags flying from Royal residences, government buildings and military establishments have been half-masted since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and organisations with flags should follow suit.
Photographs and Official portraits of Her Majesty in Buildings
Some workplaces, particularly those with official links to the Royal Family, display photographs of Royal visits and portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is keen to emphasise that these should not be removed and that it is not disrespectful for them to remain in place. In fact, it is customary to leave these in place, as portraits of previous monarchs are commonplace in older public buildings.
Supporting Employee Wellbeing During National Mourning
Bereavement can have a strong effect on employee wellbeing, and the death of Queen Elizabeth II will affect individuals differently. Organisations should be aware that national mourning may cause people to recall moments of bereavement in their own lives, and a compassionate approach is required.
Some organisations may wish to provide extra support to those struggling, in the form of a quiet space to reflect or an official way for employees to honour the Queen, like a book of condolence.
Setting up a Book of Condolence
Any organisation can open a book of condolence. Although there is no set format, this usually constitutes a trestle table covered in a white tablecloth, on which the book is placed. An arrangement of flowers (usually lilies or other white flowers) and a framed formal photograph of Her Majesty is also traditional. Business can also encourage workers to sign an online Book of Condolence on the Royal family website.
Employers might also wish to direct employees mourning the Queen to make a donation to a Royal charity.
Childcare for Employees
Monday 19 September will be marked as a Bank holiday across the UK, coinciding with the State Funeral and the last day of national mourning. Schools will also be closed, meaning that some employees may need extra support from their employer to accommodate childcare needs.
Should Offices Close for the State Funeral?
As with any other Bank Holiday, business closures or provisions for employee absence are a private matter between employer and its employees.
Government advice suggests that “we would expect that many workers will be able to take the day off” and that employers should respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take the day off.
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