That tricky annual festive question is looming over us once more: should Boxing Day should be a national holiday for everyone or is it right that people working in retail should have to work?
This Boxing Day Asda, Marks & Spencer, Pets at Home, Poundland, Wickes and toy store The Entertainer will be closed. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons will remain open.
Sainsbury’s will be open but with reduced opening hours on Boxing Day.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “Our colleagues do a fantastic job and have worked incredibly hard this year, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure they are able to take some time to rest and enjoy the festive season with their families, including reducing opening hours in supermarkets on Boxing Day.
“We’re recruiting more colleagues into our business than ever before so that we can give as many people as possible the time off they have asked for. This includes 12,000 temporary colleagues to support us this Christmas. For colleagues that have requested it, we have made sure they are able to take at least two consecutive days off over Christmas.
“In recognition of the outstanding service given to customers every day throughout the pandemic by our colleagues, this year we made two thank you payments to frontline workers.”
Tesco will be giving all frontline staff a 10% bonus for working that day and Morrisons will be giving double pay to all staff who work on Boxing Day.
Unions have asked retail outlets to close on Boxing Day as a “thank you” to staff. For example, GMB national officer, Roger Jenkins, said: “It’s a shame this is not extra holiday – workers will have to book a day of their annual leave entitlement.
“But it’s a step in the right direction and GMB now calls on the rest of the retail sector to follow suit and repay these key workers with a chance to spend Boxing Day with their loved ones.”
Supermarkets have seen record sales highs and many staff have been faced with horrendous abuse from the public. However, I believe that staff would rather have a bonus as a “thank you” than having Boxing Day off. After all, many wouldn’t be working Boxing Day anyway, so not working that day would make no difference.
Calling for all retail to close on Boxing Day is ridiculous. Some retailers, such as food outlets, have done well through the pandemic but many other retailers have gone to the wall! These range from small businesses to large, well-established names. To expect these stores to close when they have struggled all year is pretty thoughtless!
Closing these stores for another day could also cause other problems. We are seeing people not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing guidelines in town centres. Closing stores could push more people to the stores which are open, causing crowding, and again in the stores when they reopen.
The answer is simple: Ask staff if they are willing to work Boxing Day and pay them extra if they do.
And give a bonus to all front line staff to ensure that all are thanked not just those working Boxing Day!