[UK] Legal Rights For Workers Hoping To Take Boxing Day Off

Although office workers are eligible for significant time off over Christmas, for people employed in other professions things are not that simple, Bristol Post reports.

Employees of the NHS, the fire service and the police do not receive Christmas holiday leave as standard and automatic time off is not available to those in other public-facing occupations like retail workers, bus drivers and hospitality staff.

For the majority of shops, Christmas Day will be the only closure. Boxing Day, a fixture for big post-Christmas sales, is a busy time among shoppers and places time demands on staff.

With challenging shift patterns a reality for many this festive season, it is worth looking at whether it is compulsory for employees to work on Boxing Day and other public holidays.

The legal leave entitlement for the majority of workers is 28 days of paid holiday a year, based on a five-day working week (via original reporting by Manchester Evening News).

This year Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both on weekdays and therefore count as Bank Holidays. Many employers choose to give employees such days off.

However, workers have no legal right to time off - either paid or unpaid - on public holidays like Boxing Day or even Christmas Day. The government Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) says the right to take these days off is determined by conditions in their employment contract.

Employers who do give staff public holidays off must determine whether they are included as part of workers’ annual holiday entitlement, or an addition. Employers may also choose when staff use their annual leave, some may enforce employees taking time off over the festive period.

The one law ensuring Christmas Day off for many shopworkers is the ban on Christmas Day trading which applies to shops bigger than 280 square metres.

In England, smaller shops may open on any day or at any time they please. The law banning trading for large shops does not apply on Boxing Day.

Any right to extra pay is determined by the terms of a worker’s contract of employment. For employees made to work Boxing Day, there is no statutory right to extra pay - like time and a half or double pay, to soften the blow.

Source: Bristol Post