asda christmas staff

The government has rejected calls for shops to be closed on Boxing Day, during a debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

The debate was prompted after a petition was signed by 141,315 people calling for Christmas to be a family time. It also said that retail employees that work hard in the lead-up to Christmas should be given a break with all shops closed on Boxing Day.

Labour MP for Warrington North Helen Jones, who chairs the Petitions Committee, said the current system of Boxing Day sales was not fair on workers.

During the debate she said: “We need to find a way out of this dilemma. It is clear from the debate that the current situation is not fair to workers in retail or to their families.

“But those in retail are in a particularly difficult position: having had an exhausting time in the run up to Christmas, they then do not get a proper Christmas break.”

However, the under-secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Margot James said dismissed the need for changes to the current rules.

“We do not believe that it is for the government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers,” she said. “Notwithstanding the many very good arguments that I have heard this afternoon in favour of giving employees greater freedoms on bank holiday periods, particularly around the family-associated festive season, we believe that the current legislation provides the right balance between the interests of employers and workers, and at least provides workers with a generous leave entitlement. The government therefore do not propose to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”

Responding to the debate, the BRC said individual retailers and employers in other sectors such as hospitality already make their own decisions on holiday staffing based on their customers’ needs and preferences.

“Boxing Day has for years been a popular shopping day as customers take advantage of the Christmas sales, and retailers will respond accordingly to cater for customer demand,” said the BRC spokesman.

“Most retailers offer flexible shift patterns to ensure time off is distributed fairly among those who don’t wish to work throughout the holiday period.”