Things to keep in mind when working over Christmas

Things to keep in mind when working over Christmas

Things to keep in mind when working over Christmas

You may not be one of Santa’s helpers but you might still find yourself working over the Christmas holidays. Nurses, firefighters, call centre workers, media and hospitality staff – they all turn out religiously to make sure we’re sorted over the festive period.

If that’s you and you are wondering whether you should be paid extra time for unsociable hours – or even if you should be working at all, then read on. We have the latest update from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). An independent public body, they work with millions of employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships.


The festive period this year is on a weekend

And, with Christmas Day 2021 falling on a Saturday and Boxing Day the Sunday it means the festive period falls over a weekend, complicating matters further. New Year’s Day will also fall on a Saturday.

Susan Clews, ACAS Chief Executive, @acasorguk 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.”

Christmas shopping
Christmas decor

Employment rights for working over the festive period

Festive pay. Many people get paid double time if they have to work on Christmas Day, in particular. But this isn’t law. It’s actually up to your employer how much they decide to pay you. So, if you’re banking on a bonus wage packet for this period, check with your employer first so you don’t end up severely out of pocket.

Note though, that whatever multiple of your normal pay your employer says he or she is going to pay you for Christmas and Boxing Day, your basic rate must be at least the National Minimum Wage. For those aged above 23 years, this is currently £8.91. It’s due to rise to £9.50 from April 2022. For those aged 21-22 years, it is currently £8.36 but will increase to £9.18 an hour in April as well. Meanwhile, the Apprentice Rate is £4.30 at present and is due to rise to £4.81 an hour.

Festive holiday. Unless your contract of employment says so, your employer doesn’t actually have to give you Christmas Day off. That’s regardless of whether your employment is full or part-time. Yes, it all seems a bit of a Scrooge situation – especially if there’s no majorly pressing reason for you to be at work that day. This year, that particular situation should be easier though, with the main festive days falling at the weekend.

Festive changes. If, for some reason, your employer surprises you by opting to close on Christmas Day this year (when they haven’t in the past), then as an employee you don’t really have any say in the matter. Even if that means taking two days holiday on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. An employer should, however, give you ample notice beforehand. If they want you to take two days’ holiday, for instance, then you should be warned at least four days in advance (ie in double the time).