mfg Blog

Services
People
News and Events
Other
Blogs

Christmas and Workplace Issues (Part 1)

View profile for Chris Amys
  • Posted
  • Author

Q1: Does an employee have the right to take Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day as holiday?

A: Over the winter months, there are three bank holidays, which are Christmas Day (Friday 25th December 2020), Boxing Day (Monday 28th December 2020) and New Year’s Day (Friday 1st January 2021). Employees are not automatically entitled to have any of these days off work unless an employee’s Contract of Employment states they do.

Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday per annum as a minimum, although some employers provide their employees with more holiday entitlement. However, employees are not automatically entitled to take holiday during the Christmas holidays, and therefore an employer can insist on its employees to work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, providing that they permit employees to take at least 5.6 weeks holiday during the company’s holiday year.

Businesses should also be mindful that due to COVID-19, employees can carry over accrued untaken holiday entitlement to the next 2 holiday years.

Q2: Is an employee entitled to holiday over Christmas?

A: Employees will be requesting time off work during the Christmas period for a number of reasons, such as meeting family and friends, or for religious reasons such as attending Christmas Church services, whether in person or virtually online.

A Staff Handbook should provide the processes and procedures for employees to follow when requesting time off work, which should be no different over the Christmas period compared to the rest of the year. A COVID-19 policy may also set out details on what is currently permitted, especially taking into account those who have been furloughed or have been required to working throughout COVID-19.

As with summer holidays, employers may be inundated with holiday requests, to the extent that the business may have insufficient staff to cover the Christmas period.

Therefore employers may implement a number of rules, either expressly or through custom and practice such as a Christmas shutdown, nominating particular dates when employees should take holiday, limiting the maximum amount of holiday during the Christmas period, and limiting the maximum number of employees permitted off work at any given time.

In particular, employers should be conscious of any members of staff who have worked throughout COVID-19 and have not received time off work. Employers should therefore give consideration as to whether any priority should be given to any particular members of staff.

Q3: What happens if an employee is off work due to a cold or flu or COVID-19 during Christmas?

A: If an employee is off work for a genuine reason, such as a cold or flu, an employer’s Sickness and Absence policy will apply. A reasonable employer should apply the policy fairly and consistently to all employees to avoid any potential discrimination claim.

Similarly cases of COVID-19 should be dealt with in the normal way under an employer’s COVID-19 policy and procedure.

There are often occasions where an employer may suspect an employee is abusing the system and falsely claiming they are unable to work. It may be difficult for an employer to prove the claims of the employee, and may also be accused of inconsistent treatment if the employer only takes action against some employees, but not others.

Nevertheless, an employer could take the decision to implement its Disciplinary Procedure if it has concerns over an employee’s attendance record or over the reasons given for their absence.

Due to COVID-19, employers should be particularly hot on any fraudulent claims of sickness.

Employees will be requesting time off work during the Christmas period for a number of reasons, such as meeting family and friends, or for religious reasons such as attending Christmas Church services, whether in person or virtually online.

A Staff Handbook should provide the processes and procedures for employees to follow when requesting time off work, which should be no different over the Christmas period compared to the rest of the year. A COVID-19 policy may also set out details on what is currently permitted, especially taking into account those who have been furloughed or have been required to working throughout COVID-19.

As with summer holidays, employers may be inundated with holiday requests, to the extent that the business may have insufficient staff to cover the Christmas period.

Therefore employers may implement a number of rules, either expressly or through custom and practice such as a Christmas shutdown, nominating particular dates when employees should take holiday, limiting the maximum amount of holiday during the Christmas period, and limiting the maximum number of employees permitted off work at any given time.

In particular, employers should be conscious of any members of staff who have worked throughout COVID-19 and have not received time off work. Employers should therefore give consideration as to whether any priority should be given to any particular members of staff.

To contact our Employment Team, email Head of Employment Sally Morris. sally.morris@mfgsolicitors.com 

Comments