Christmas | Sainsbury's accused of 'acting like Scrooge' in Boxing Day work furore

Sainsbury's accused of 'acting like Scrooge' in Boxing Day work furore

The retail firm Sainsbury’s has recently been slammed by union bosses for its decision to open up stores on Boxing Day this year – the Mirror reported.

Representatives working at Unite – a trade union in the UK which seeks to protect workers’ rights – have accused the firm of putting “wealth above the wellbeing of its workforce” after the retailer revealed plans to open between 10am and 5pm on Boxing Day this year.

In addition to this, the union has accused the chain of “acting like Scrooge” after extending its hours leading up to Christmas.

Union bosses are now calling on the supermarket chain to close on Boxing Day this year to allow staff to have “a well-earned break” after tough conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Elsewhere, the union has insisted that Sainsbury’s should put measures in place to help employees get home from work in a safe manner after midnight, when public transport may be limited and more difficult to access.

According to the publication, Sainsbury’s has agreed to reduce its opening hours on Boxing Day, though the stores will be open from 6am to midnight from December 21 to December 23, 2020.

‘Acting like Scrooge’

This has attracted criticism from Unite’s National Officer, Bev Clarkson, who claimed that Sainsbury’s is “acting like Scrooge.”

She said: “In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge begrudgingly gives Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off but demands he be in on Boxing Day. By refusing to give their workforce – many of whom, like Bob Cratchit, will have worked until late Christmas Eve – a well-earned break on Boxing Day, Sainsbury’s are acting like Scrooge.

“Putting wealth before the wellbeing of its workforce certainly doesn't chime with Sainsbury’s warm-hearted Christmas ads currently running on TV,” Clarkson added.

In addition to this, Clarkson said that the retail giant should “embrace the Christmas spirit” by recognising that staff members have worked hard throughout the pandemic – some of whom will have worked extra hours over the festive season – and give them December 26 off work so that they can unwind with family.

Sainsbury’s response

In response to this story, a Sainsbury’s Spokesperson told the publication that it would be operating reduced hours on Boxing Day to give staff more time to spend with loved ones.

The statement from Sainsbury’s read: "Our colleagues do a fantastic job and have worked incredibly hard this year.

"We are doing everything we can to give our colleagues Boxing Day off where they have asked for it and we will be reducing our opening hours for Boxing Day from 10am to 5pm for all our Sainsbury's supermarkets and Argos stores.

"This will allow all our colleagues to spend a little more time with their families, which we know is important to them, while enabling our customers to shop for the items they may need during the festive period," the statement added.

While supermarket firm Sainsbury’s will remain open on Boxing Day – even if for a reduced period of time – some retailers are giving staff members December 26 off work this year.

Which firms are giving staff Boxing Day off?

In fact, HR Grapevine recently reported that DIY chain Wickes has opted to shut for three days over Christmas – including Boxing Day – to give staff a break.

Speaking to The Sun last month, the firm confirmed that the days off will be treated as extra holiday and therefore staff will be paid for this time off.

David Wood, Chief Executive Officer at Wickes, explained: “The decision to close our stores and give our colleagues some meaningful time off was an easy one. It’s been an unprecedented year and we wanted to take a moment to recognise the tremendous effort our team has gone to.

“At a time when we usually connect with others, we felt it was right to support our colleagues with more time with friends and loved ones.”


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Elsewhere, the retail firm The Entertainer announced plans to give staff a three-day break over the Christmas and Boxing Day weekend.

The toy retail giant said that the aim of allowing staff this long Christmas weekend off work was to give them chance to spend “quality time” with loved ones when restrictions are temporarily eased.

More recently, Retail Gazette reported that Marks & Spencer (M&S) decided to close its stores on Boxing Day, after previously planning to open more than 200 stores on the day.

Not only will all of its stores close in the UK, but its customer contact centre and distribution centre in Castle Donington will also close.

M&S’ Chief Executive Steve Rowe, told the publication: “Throughout the pandemic, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to deliver for our customers and as we enter the busy festive season they are doubling down on their efforts once again to help our customers deliver the Christmas magic for their families and friends.”

According to Acas, employers don’t have to give staff time off on a bank holiday or at Christmas time if it isn’t included in their holiday entitlement.

The site explained that this the same whether a person works full-time or part-time for a company.



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