More than a million people expected to work on Christmas Day

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
The Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square as more than a million people are estimated to be working on Christmas Day. Photo: PA

An estimated 1.1 million people will be working on Christmas Day this year, according to new research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

An estimated 440,000 workers in health and social care are expected to head to work on 25 December. Carers, nurses and nursing assistants most likely to be on duty, with no let up at one of the busiest times of year for the NHS.

Around 39,000 chefs, 29,000 kitchen and catering assistants, 18,000 waiting staff and 15,000 bar staff are also thought likely to be working on an important day for many hotels and restaurants.

Other industries where thousands of employees have to work include policing (14,000), security (18,000) and—perhaps least surprisingly—the clergy (25,000).

It comes as Britain’s two main party leaders both thanked NHS, police and other public sector workers missing out on Christmas celebrations and time off with their families.

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Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both made the comments in their Christmas video messages to the public.

The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady called for staff to be “fairly rewarded,” saying many workers in the services sector did not receive extra payments or time off.

“We owe a huge debt to all those working on Christmas Day. Many on duty on will be on low pay, especially in sectors like hospitality and social care,” she said.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady. Photo: PA

The shopworkers’ union Usdaw also called for shops to be forced to close on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with many retail workers expected to work as sales begin on 26 December.

“The trend for more stores to open longer over the festive period inevitably has a big impact on shopworkers’ Christmas Day celebrations,” said Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw.

“Finishing late on Christmas Eve and then getting straight back to work on Boxing Day means that Christmas Day is not a proper break.”

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