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Although Christmas Day and Boxing Day are anticipated by many as a welcome day off, the reality is that many essential services and businesses must stay open during the festive season. If your SME needs to continue operating on Christmas Day you may be wondering whether you can legally compel your employees to come into work. 

Check your employment contract

Your employment contract should clearly state whether all staff or certain staff are required to work public holidays including Christmas Day. If Christmas Day falls on one of your organisation’s normal working days and you are open for business it is likely you can expect employees to come into work unless they have been granted annual leave.

What if an employee objects to working on Christmas Day because of religious reasons?

An employee cannot refuse to work on Christmas Day for religious reasons. They can, however, bring a discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal if you refuse to grant them annual leave so they can have the day off. To bring a successful claim the employee will need to show that in refusing to grant them annual leave they were placed at a disadvantage when compared with employees of different or no religious beliefs.

If a discrimination claim is brought against you and you can show that the discrimination was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (i.e to ensure you have enough staff for Christmas Day) the discrimination claim is unlikely to succeed.

Wrapping up

Being able to count on your employees to work on the days you need them is a vital part of any employment relationship. If you are unsure about whether or not you can compel a particular team member to come into work on Christmas Day, speak to one of Lawbite’s highly experienced Employment Law Solicitors.


Get legal assistance from LawBite

If you have any legal questions about what to do during this festive season do not hesitate to contact LawBite expert employment and commercial lawyers to clear out your doubts. 

LawBite lawyers will be happy to assist you and help you protect your business and employees. Book a free 15-minute consultation today!


Additional useful information

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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