Working Over Christmas: What Are Your Rights?
Feature

Working Over Christmas: What Are Your Rights?

By Aaron Walawalkar, News and Digital Editor 20 Dec 2019
Workplace
What are your rights if you are working over Christmas? Credit: Unsplash

Santa and his elves are not the only ones busy at work this Christmas – many people across the country will be working over the festive period and on Christmas Day.

Thousands of emergency, hospitality, and retail workers will be helping those who celebrate to get their last minute presents and keep the country’s essential services running.

What are your rights if you are working over the Christmas period? Are you entitled to extra pay? Can your boss compel you to work the Christmas shift? Experts from advisory service Acas explain.

Susan Clews, Acas chief executive, said: “Many people across the country will be enjoying the break but millions of workers will also be helping to keep the country running during this busy period.

“It’s important for employees and employers to have sensible discussions about working over the holidays and we have advice that can help staff understand their rights at this time of year.”

Santa and his elves are not the only ones who will be busy working on Christmas Day.

Santa and his elves are not the only ones who will be busy working on Christmas Day. Credit: Unsplash.

Some of your key rights over the Christmas period are as follows:

  • Your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage – though this depends on how old you are. Check here.
  • There is no entitlement to extra pay (such as time and a half or overtime pay), though many workplaces do offer this, so check your contract or speak to a manager.
  • Your employer can also make you take your holiday on bank holidays or at Christmas if, for example, the business is shut on these days.
  • Employers and workers should keep in mind that some workers may wish to attend religious services over this period, and that several religious holy days occur around this time.

Bank holidays And Christmas

According to Acas, your employer does not have to give you time off on a bank holiday or at Christmas if they’re not included in your holiday entitlement. This is the same whether you work full time or part time.

Your employer can also make you take your holiday on bank holidays or at Christmas.

Remember bank holidays might be included in your paid holiday entitlement – you can check your employment contract to find out.

If your employer changes when they open or close

What are your rights if you are working on Christmas Day?

What are your rights if you are working on Christmas Day? Image Credit: Unsplash.

Your employer has the right to make changes to when you take holiday if they need to.

For example, they can decide to shut over Christmas and force their employees to take their paid holiday, even if in previous years the business was open over Christmas.

If your employer needs you to take holiday, they should tell you at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need you to take.

For example, if they need you to take two days of holiday, they should tell you at least four days before.

Before making a change to the way staff take holidays, your employer might need to consider whether there has been custom and practice.

If your employer is making significant, long-term changes, for example to the amount of holiday days or pay they give, they must follow the process for changing a contract.

If you do not want to take a bank holiday

If a bank holiday falls on one of your normal working days and you do not want to take the day off, you could ask your employer if you can work the bank holiday and take another day off instead.

This is taking a day’s holiday ‘in lieu’. Your employer does not have to agree to this.

You can only get paid in lieu of bank holidays if they’re part of untaken holiday entitlement when you leave your job.

If you work on a bank holiday, you must still get your full 5.6 weeks (pro rata if you’re part time) of statutory annual leave as paid time off.

Bank holidays while on sick or maternity leave

If they’re included in your holiday entitlement, you still build up paid days off for bank holidays while on:

  • sick leave, or
  • maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave.