With tea towels draped precariously over wise men’s heads, fidgeting shepherds and an audience of overanxious, camera-phone-toting parents willing their offspring not to fluff their lines, the annual nativity play has become a deeply loved and emotional Christmas tradition.
Now one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets has decided that the festive play is so unmissable it is granting staff special “nativity leave” to allow them to attend.
Research by Asda revealed that one in three parents was worried that they would miss out on their child’s enactment of the traditional Christmas stable story this year.
The study of 5,500 women with children found that being there was more important than watching a recording of the play captured by a partner on film.
Hayley Tatum, Asda’s executive people director said the company had introduced a flexible working policy granting staff unpaid discretionary time off to attend their child’s school play.
“There’s no doubt working mums have a lot on their plate at this time of year and we don’t want our colleagues to miss out on the things that are really important to them this Christmas.
“Technology might help to take the pressure off busy working parents on a daily basis, but we know that it’s just not the same watching your child’s milestone moments back on a smartphone or tablet.
“‘Nativity Leave’ gives parents the opportunity to take time off for the school Christmas play or simply for some much needed family time outside of normal holidays,” she said.
The decision to allow staff the planned Christmas bonus time was endorsed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which said firms wanted staff to enjoy the holiday season with their families.
Neil Carberry, CBI director of employment and skills said: “As firms need to cater to the Christmas rush themselves, it’s vital to plan ahead. Bosses and staff across the UK will be having discussions on how best to keep the business going and manage leave that allows people to spend time with their families.”