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More firms enforcing Christmas shut-down

CHRISTMAS DAY remains the most lucrative day of the year for those required to work, but an increasing number of workers are being forced to take longer breaks over the holiday period.

Pay packets of up to four times the daily rate are on offer for those who have to turn up on 25 December, with an increasing common option of overtime plus time off in lieu. Many more workers, however, will be required to take an extended break as the Christmas shut-down becomes the norm, according to a review by Incomes Data Services.

Many managers, particularly in manufacturing, believe it makes more sense to close organisations completely between Christmas and the new year. The most common holiday is an extra three days on top of the statutory holiday, although Silentnight Beds requires workers to take eight days off and Hotpoint a week.

A majority of firms are reluctant to allow employees to carry over unused holiday entitlement although some, such as Black and Decker, allow up to 10 days to be 'cashed in' at full pay.

'Some employers restrict the amount of holiday that can be taken at any one time; others impose no such limits and will allow employees to take extra unpaid leave to extend a holiday abroad,' IDS reports.

A separate study on Christmas bonuses, conducted by Industrial Relations Services, revealed that the bumper pay packet may be a thing of the past.

Fewer than one in ten companies pays a cash bonus, but many firms continue to contribute to the Christmas party with an average spend per head of pounds 11.67. A large number provide some form of gift, with the most popular being a turkey, worth an average of pounds 14.