HR expert explains your rights if you're asked to work over Christmas

HR expert explains your rights if you're asked to work over Christmas

28th November 2022

HR expert explains your rights if you're asked to work over Christmas

The festive season is approaching, and while it is traditionally a time to celebrate and relax, sadly this will not be the case for many tradespeople this year.

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Our recent research found that more than a fifth (21%) of UK tradespeople will work on Christmas Day, mainly due to the cost-of-living crisis, and almost a third (31%) are taking less time off than in previous years.

But what if you don’t want to work on the bank holidays? What if you’d like a break between Christmas and New Year?

We’ve spoken to Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10Eighty, to explain what to do if your employer asks you to work over the festive period.

Check your contract

“If you have a contract, read it closely to see exactly what you’ve signed up to. An employer does not have to give you time off on bank or public holidays if they are not included in your holiday entitlement. This applies to both part-time and full-time workers.

“If a bank holiday is on a day that you do not usually work, your employer cannot make you use that day as part of your holiday entitlement.”

Communicate with your manager

“Communication is key. Don’t make assumptions. If you want your manager/employer to be reasonable, then you need to be reasonable too.

“Your employer should be planning and communicating schedules in good time. Talk to your manager and don’t leave it until the last minute to ask for time off. If others have already requested leave, you may be out of luck.  

“They can’t discriminate, but you’d have to prove that you were treated differently to others. There should be no favouritism from your employer when deciding. It’s not, for instance, fair to say that working parents have priority on holiday requests.  

“If you are rostered to work and want to take holiday, you may be able to swap your shift if you can find a co-worker willing to swap, but your employer doesn’t have to allow this, so make sure you check with them first.”

Consider the consequences

“Being agreeable about the holiday roster could help you earn the favour of management, as by being flexible, you’re making their lives easier.

“If you have a good reason to ask for a schedule change, you’re more likely to be accommodated if you are generally cooperative and agreeable about such matters. Depending on your contract, if you offer to work an unpopular shift, you might be able to negotiate time in lieu.

“If you decide to say ‘no’ to a request to work on specific day, you have to accept the consequences.

“In some industries, it’s essential for at least some staff to be working on every single day of the year. In these cases, it’s not unreasonable for an employer to ask you to work – it all depends on your role.

“I think modern work culture means that more people do and will have to work weekends and holidays. It’s just the way things are going. You can stand up for your rights but be sure of your ground first.”


As we head towards a new year, if you’re looking to stock up on equipment and materials, you can get everything you need from our vast online store, from cabinet and shelf hardware, to door hardware and closers