WHEN it comes to the Christmas holidays, not everyone will automatically get Christmas Day or New Year’s day off.
Even though the festive period is littered with Bank Holidays, whether or not you’ll have to work is dependent on the terms of your contract.
Not everyone automatically gets time off work over the Christmas periodCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The good news is, some employers choose to offer extra pay such as double time, so working the Christmas period can be a nice little earner.
Unfortunately, they don’t have to, so some people may be asked to work without any extra compensation.
If your employer asks you to come in – here’s everything you need to know about whether you have to work, whether you’ll get extra pay and whether you’re entitled to time off in lieu.
Do I have to work over the Christmas holidays?
If you work five days a week, you’re legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of holiday, which works out at 28 days’ paid annual leave each year.
If you work part time, you are still entitled to 5.6 weeks, but this will be calculated pro-rata. For instance, someone who works three days a week will get at least 16.8 days.
Employers can offer more than the statutory requirement, but they don’t have to.
What days you’ll need to work over the Christmas period depends on how this holiday is described in your contract.
Sometimes your workplace will say you have a certain number of days annual leave “exclusive of” bank holidays.
For instance, your contract could allow you to take 20 days of paid holiday each year as well as the eight bank holidays.
If your holiday is allocated like this, then you can’t be made to work on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.
In fact, some offices choose to shut between Christmas and New Year and you won’t be able to work in the holiday period at all.
Your rights if you’re working over the festive period
Workplace and employment advisers ACAS explain your rights if you work over Christmas
- Your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage,
- 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 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, if for example, the business is shut on these days
The second type of contract will describe your holiday entitlement as “inclusive of” bank holidays.
So, instead of being given 20 days off plus the public holidays, you could be given 28 days to take as you choose.
In this case, you won’t automatically get Christmas, New Year or Easter as holiday – you’ll have to book days off if you want them.
Depending on the type of work you do, you may not be able to take those days off at all, or it might be that its first come, first serve and only a proportion of your team can be on holiday.
Will I get time off in lieu if I work on Christmas and New Years Eve?
If your holiday entitlement is exclusive of bank holidays, then you can’t be made to work.
That’s because public holidays such as Christmas an New Years are written into your contract.
Of course, your employer might want you to work and they can ask you to do so, but you don’t have to.
If you do agree to go in, then you should be given a day in lieu for the holiday you missed out on.
If your holiday entitlement is inclusive of bank holidays then you don’t have to be given time off in lieu for days you work.
In this case, holidays are just normal work days and you can ask to book them off if you want, but you don’t get extra holiday if you decide not to.
Will I get double- or triple-time if I work over Christmas?
Employers do not legally have to offer you any extra money to work over the festive period, but some choose to.
If you’re asked to work, dig out your employment contract and search for “holiday” or “Christmas” just too double check the company policy.
Some generous employers offer as much as triple pay, so it’s well worth checking.
Acas senior adviser Tom Neil said: “Due to covid restrictions being relaxed over the Christmas period, many staff may wish to book leave.
“However, many businesses may still be open over this period and bosses won’t be able to allow everyone time off at the same time.
“We would advise people to get any requests in early and employers will need to consider each request fairly.”
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