Can I Get Sacked for Refusing to Work Christmas Day?

If you’re new to the UK, or if you’ve been here a while but were never really made aware that December 25 is a bank holiday, then don’t worry. You’re not alone! Annual leave laws in this country may seem particularly complicated for people who don’t work for large companies or government bodies. In fact, it’s fair to say that Britain’s laws on annual leave are among the most complicated in Europe—but we’ll get into that later.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what happens when refusing to work on Christmas Day (or other bank holidays) and whether employers can force their staff to do so. We’ll also examine what rights workers have under employment law if their employer forces them to take annual leave at short notice. Finally, we’ll cover some common myths about how much paid time off employees are entitled to over Christmas and New Year’s Day…

Christmas Eve?

What about Christmas Eve?

With regards to your employment rights, if you are a Muslim or Jew and work on Christmas Eve, this will not be considered discrimination against religious belief. This is because there are no additional rights for Christians or Jews to have time off from work on this date that are not available to other religions. However, if your employer requires you to work on a different bank holiday (such as Easter Sunday), then this would be discriminatory as it does not apply equally to those who adhere to other faiths.

Christmas Day?

If you work in the retail or hospitality industry, you are entitled to a paid day off work on Christmas Day. If your employer asks you to work on this day, they must pay for it. In some cases, employers may also offer their staff some time off with pay and still keep them on the books for Christmas Day.

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If you aren’t sure whether or not this applies to your workplace, check with HR (human resources). They should be able to tell you what is expected of employees at your company and when they can take leave.

Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK, meaning that employers are not legally allowed to require employees to work on it. However, there are circumstances in which you may be required to work on Boxing Day.

If you’re part of a union that has negotiated with your employer to take a day off instead of working on Boxing Day (which can happen if your place of employment would otherwise be closed for the holiday), then this agreement will override any company policy about work on holidays and you should be able to enjoy your day off without worry. If no such agreement has been made and/or your place of employment is open even though it’s technically closed for Christmas Day, then they could still require you to come into work anyway—and if they do so against what seems fair or reasonable given their circumstances during those days (e.g., because they’ve had too few staff members call off due to illness/family commitments), then this could count as unfair dismissal under UK law!

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New Year’s Eve?

As long as your employer doesn’t force you to work on New Year’s Eve, you’re fine.

Your employer cannot force you to work on New Year’s Day, but if they do so due to an emergency situation (e.g., power failure), then that would be acceptable. However, if it is done simply because they don’t have enough staff at the time and want someone who normally wouldn’t be working that day anyway, this could constitute unlawful discrimination against employees who are not willing or able to work on such a special occasion for themselves or their families/friends.

Similarly, whether it is OK for your boss to ask you to come in on Boxing Day depends entirely on how much notice there was given before Christmas itself started off with this question being asked.”

New Year’s Day?

New Year’s Day is a bank holiday in the UK. As such, you can’t be required to work on New Year’s Day without being given paid time off in lieu at another day.

If your employer agrees that you don’t need to come into work on Boxing Day (or any other bank holiday), then they must pay you for that day as if it were any other day of the week. If however, your employer does not agree with this and insists that you do come into work anyway, then they are breaking the law and could be prosecuted by HMRC for underpaying their employees.

Can I Be Forced to Work on Christmas Day or Other Bank Holidays?

As an employee, you can be forced to work on Christmas Day or other bank holidays. You can also be forced to work on Sundays and public holidays.

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If your employer has given you the option of working a shift on a particular day and that day happens to fall on Christmas Day, then it’s up to them if they want you there or not. They may consider other factors such as whether there is enough staff available for everyone else in order for people who don’t want to work that day still have their roles covered.

If your workplace doesn’t provide any alternative arrangements for employees wishing not work on such days, then your employer might decide that anyone refusing would automatically lose their job or face disciplinary action – although this is rare nowadays and only applies if they still have no suitable replacement staff available (see below).

Yes, you can get sacked for refusing to work Christmas day.

Yes, you can get sacked for refusing to work Christmas day.

Your employer has the right to dismiss you if they have a good reason and are able to prove it. Your employer might be within their rights if they didn’t give enough notice or had put in place a formal policy letting employees know that working on Christmas Day is part of their job.

However, this rule doesn’t apply if:

  • You’re an agency worker or casual employee working under a fixed-term contract which includes specific dates (such as only working over certain dates)
  • You’re on maternity leave


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