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Working on Christmas Day and Holidays in Lieu etc

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buffymad | 14:58 Tue 21st Dec 2010 | Law
10 Answers
Hope someone can help!

My husband works 5 days a week - his 2 days off can fall on any day - the rota changes from week to week.

The place he works still requires people to go in on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day (to look after animals so can't leave them alone!). The way they've always worked it is that if you work on one of these days you get paid extra. If you don't work on one of these days you get paid normally but are given an extra day off (to make up for it I suppose). So this year my husband had been given today off, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off. He's just had a phone call today (management there are hopeless by the way, everyone hates them!!) to say thats not right and they should only still have the normal 2 days off this week - even with Christmas etc falling on a weekend.

I just wondered if there was any law about Christmas working hours etc and what exactly is what. I know it all sounds very complicated but they never seem to do things the easy way!!

Having already had today off and having only been told today about this, he now has to work on Christmas Eve and hope that they let him take today as a day's holiday - which means he can still be off for the "main" event.

Any help gratefully appreciated!!


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Have you got a copy of his written contract of employment?
I expect everyone will have 8 days (for bank/publuc holidays) added to their basic holiday entitlement. if they don't work they stay at home and it counts as one of their 8 days, although they may just see it as a bank holiday. If they do work they don't take a holiday.
There are no laws about what days you can/cannot be made to work. What matters is his contract#s terms
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I don't think he got a contract as such. There were lots of papers to sign - health and safety etc and other rubbish. Am double checking with him now!
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Just checked - and no, he didn't sign any contract! Like I said, its a rather not very well handled type of place to work (even though its a charity). No wonder everyone is on minimum wage! Do I take it that if there's no contract then they can make it up as they go along?
A charity without a contract goes beyond my experience ...

I'd hate to mis-advise you so let's see if somebody more knowledgeable can help ...
The law about Christmas working is (with only a few exceptions) that Christmas Day (and all other public holidays) have no special status whatsoever in employment law.

If Christmas Day falls on a day when an employee would normally be at work, the employer has every right to demand that the employee attend for work at his normal rate of pay. The only exceptions relate to bank employees (who are covered by the legal provisions relating to bank holidays) and to retail staff (but only when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday or on Easter Sunday, when trading is prohibited by large stores).

Any other arrangements are subject to the individual contractual terms that exist between employee and employer.

I don't agree with the last poster because, for example, if a Police shift roster falls on any Bank Holiday, you would receive double time if you had to work, unless you were told you weren't needed in which case you simply had the day off.

Re your husband's predicament, it sounds very much as if the fact that he has no actual contract would leave him open to possible abuse from the employer(s), which appears to be the case here.

He can either call their bluff and tell them that he's holding them to their original schedule, thereby possibly risking the sack, or else he can bow to their wishes?
Either way it seems like he's in a no win situation and should seriously consider whether or not he remains in that job. I know what I'd do.
My point, Eyethenkyew, is that the arrangements which apply to the police come about through the contractual agreement between them and their employers. That's exactly the same for all other people who get paid extra (or who have time off in lieu) on public holidays. Some people will have contractual terms entitling them to additional pay (or to timer off in lieu); many other won't . (When I worked on the railways, public holidays were 'just another day', and paid at exactly the same rate as normal. Christmas Day was a compulsory part of an employee's holiday entitlement, paid at the normal rate, simply because the rail network was closed on that day).

As I've stated above, Parliament has never passed any statutory legislation (other the very limited exceptions I've referred to) in respect of employment on public holidays. The Government's website states "If you work on a bank or public holiday, there is no automatic right to an enhanced pay rate. What you get paid depends on your contract of employment":

I agree with Buenchico. Eyethankyou's example doesn't contradict anything Buenchico said.
One other thing,buffymad, your husband does have a contract- it just doesn't seen to have been written down in the standard form. The contract will be based on all sorts of things such as what was agreed at interview, custom and practice, staff circulars and handbooks, etc. He needs to seek clarification on the main terms.

In a small organisation there needs to be give and take. If he makes too much of a fuss he, as someone with less than a year's service, he can be dismissed for almost any reason.
Hmmm. Not much I can add to the last two. Nice to see the usual suspects in good form on these matters.

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