Do employees have to work on boxing day?

Giving the Boxing Day shift the knockout blow. Do you have to work it?

Nearly 2 million people work on Boxing Day, with 16.5% in the accommodation and food services sector, according to UK-wide figures from the Office for National Statistics 2014.

With the packed Christmas schedule fast approaching, for some the holidays either mean gluttony or gloom.

No law bans the trading for large shops on Boxing Day.

Any right to time off depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment, including the eight permanent bank holidays across the year. Boxing Day is one of them.

Sadly, there isn’t even a right to extra pay. The temptation of ‘time and a half’ or ‘double pay’ are only given to employees depending what their employers offer them.

One company that has felt the Christmas cheer is Home Bargains. The family-run discount retailer has boldly announced 23,000 of their staff have been given an extra day off with the Boxing Day closure. An audacious move whilst competitors rake in money from the sales.

Tom Morris, founder and managing director of Home Bargains, has echoed the company’s values by rewarding his staff over the many stores for their hard work in the stressful lead-up. A refreshing belief that the day be better spent with family and loved ones.

Although Christmas is a significant period in the retail calendar, and with staff across the business spending months building up to the occasion every year, we wanted to give them an opportunity to relax and truly enjoy the break with their loved ones.

“We also appreciate that our staff work tirelessly to keep over 500 of our stores running like clockwork, so giving everyone Boxing Day off is our way of saying thank you for their hard work and commitment.

Could this be a trend in the future? Rhian Murphy, senior statistician at the ONS, emphasised the popularity of the American themed Black Friday. Evidence of shoppers taking advantage of the low prices in November resulted in spending falling by 1.5% in December last year.

Whether consumers choose to do their shopping early or not, a continual increase in Black Friday shopping could consequently change current attitudes and laws around working over the festival period.