A RIFT Guide to Working Over Christmas
29th November 2018
Stuck in work on the 25th of December? Well, you’re not alone. Around a million of us in the UK are in the same boat (sleigh?) this year. So, before you start planning your revenge on the Grinch who stole your Christmas, here’s a quick guide to getting through it with your sanity - and maybe even your Christmas spirit - intact.
Can I be legally be made to work at Christmas?
Despite what most people seem to believe, there’s no specific law against your boss making you work over Christmas or bank holidays. In fact, they don’t even have to pay you more for doing it.
That said, if you’re asked to dump your holiday plans for another day with your nose to the grindstone, check your contract to see what your rights are. By law, you’ve got to have 28 days off each year, but your terms of employment might give you more.
Will I get paid more for working at Christmas?
About 1 in 5 people in the UK who work over Christmas get no extra pay for it.
About the same number get time and a half, while over a third get double their normal rates. As it turns out, 1 in 10 is actually getting as much as triple. Almost starts to sound worth it when you put it that way. Of course, around half of those people had no choice about it.
Again, check what your contract says. UK workers are getting Scrooged out of close to £3 billion in paid leave each year, so it pays to know what you’re entitled to.
Is there any other upside to working at Christmas?
Even if you’re not one of the lucky ones on triple pay you might still feel better off safely out of it at work.
To be fair, a traditional British Christmas comes with a stocking-load of stress and hassle for many of us. You’ve got screeching kids, arguing in-laws and that one board game that everyone hates but still finds its way down from the loft each Boxing Day. Compared to that, a day in the office sounds almost serenely peaceful and for once, you’ll probably have your choice of seat on the ride to work, too.
Once you’re there, you might be surprised to find the atmosphere a lot lighter than expected. Clients, co-workers and customers are probably all enjoying the festive season.
Depending on the business you’re in, you’re either in for a refreshingly quiet day or a profitably busy one. Either way, it’s unlikely to be just another dull weekday. You get to dodge those painful family dos at home – and maybe even arrange one of your own where you work. If your hours are a little more flexible or the dress code’s a little more relaxed on Christmas Day, so much the better.
Even if you’re not getting extra cash for working at Christmas, you might find yourself with an unexpectedly better off in other ways. Taking your family holiday at almost any other time of the year will probably save you money. You could also have your pick of the post-Christmas bargains while everyone else is dragging their turkey-stuffed carcasses back to work.
Who is working over Christmas?
So, from clergy to careworkers, there are a lot of us clocking in over Christmas.
If half of those are forced to, that means half are doing it by choice. Clearly, there has to be an up-side.
Working at Christmas might not be your idea of embracing the seasonal spirit, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. Just remember to keep track of all your expenses so you don’t end up putting an extra present under the taxman’s tree this year. Give us a shout to help with your next HMRC tax rebate, and don't forget we can help get your tax returns sorted before that January 31st deadline, too (if you need one).