Sainsbury’s staff told to take annual leave on Christmas Day despite store closures

Sainsbury's Boxing Day Christmas
The Big 4 grocer said employees who don't use their holiday allowance on December 25 will be given unpaid leave
// Sainsbury’s told employees to use their annual leave on Christmas Day
// Stores remain closed on December 25
// Staff have been told they will be given unpaid leave if they don’t use their holiday allowance on Christmas Day

Sainsbury’s has reportedly told employees to use their annual leave on Christmas Day despite all stores being closed.

The Big 4 grocer said employees who don’t use their holiday allowance on December 25 will be given unpaid leave, The Mirror reported.

Sainsbury’s is already facing criticism for its decision to trade on Boxing Day, while other retailers across the UK announced plans to close on Boxing Day to give staff time with friends and family.


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One Sainsbury’s Local store employee said December 25 is the only day in the year that his branch is closed – yet workers will have to request it off using their holiday allowance.

Other employees have accused the grocer of prioritising “money over wellbeing”.

However, Sainsbury’s responded by saying that the policy has been in place for “several years”.

The company said all colleagues are given a holiday allowance that takes into account public holidays.

Sainsbury’s stores will operate reduced hours from 10am to 5pm on Boxing Day, but supermarkets will be open from 6am until midnight in the run up to December 23.

Despite shorter opening hours, one employee said staff are still required to work full shifts.

The employee accused the chain of cashing in on the hospitality curfew.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I used to work for Sainsbury’s in the 90’s and they were a good company who looked after staff. Since the Sainsbury family sold off all their shares and got out of the business they company has become greedy and lost its way. Also the quality has gone down so much in the desire to grow that it’s got nothing that differentiates it.

    • Agreed! People remember them for what they were, not for what they are now in 2020. I wouldn’t say they were any better than Morrisons. There’s nothing particularly special about Sainsburys.

  2. Why is this being treated as something bad by Sainsbury’s?
    In the UK, we are all entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks leave, which includes the 8 bank holidays. For many of us we take those 8 days when the bank holidays occur. Sainsbury’s are just making sure that one of those bank holidays is Christmas Day.
    If anything, allowing staff to use their bank holiday entitlement whenever they want is better than other workers who have to take them when they occur.
    But, why let facts get in the way of a headline that makes it look like the supermarket chain is treating its staff badly when, actually, it’s just doing what most other organisations / industries have done for years.

    • Just because it has always been done that way does not make it right. There are hundreds of unfair, stupid or wicked things that when they were happening people would defend on the basis that that is how things were always done. Now that they are gone because the law or common decency has forbidden them, no one thinks they are right. This falls into the same category

  3. That’s normal in all retailers. You get given lieu hours for 8 bank holidays a year in addition to your normal holiday allowance. Therefore, to book it off you are, in effect, not using holiday you are using lieu hours.

  4. Mark’s and spencer are making their staff work there boxing day hours christmas week along with a minimum of 4 hours overtime !!

  5. Yes Sainsbury’s do give extra holiday allowance for such things as Christmas and bank holidays. However, they make colleagues book Christmas day as holiday or take unpaid if you’re shift falls on that day, whereas when the supermarkets shut on Easter Sunday colleagues don’t have to use holiday and get it as a paid day off. What’s the difference I don’t know… Both days closed, one you have to book the other you get paid for. Makes no sense.

  6. I worked for next when boxing day sales began… it ruined my Christmas with 2 little girls… end boxing day sales for good and opening on boxing day. If families can’t have 2 days off together there’s something wrong… January sales would still do as well

  7. I worked at sainsburys in the 90s the company was good I had to leave because of bulling that the didn’t want to deal with the manager didn’t care about staff that had been their a long time because we were on the old contact slot happen in are store but things were covered up manager were rewarded for there staff doing well but staff like myself nothing I hate the way this company have gone down hill

  8. Sainsbury’s have been a complete PR disaster this last few years, more so this one. Oddly consistent of them, still at least something about them is

  9. The same at Wilko. We have to use our holiday allowance for Christmas Day and New Years Day. Even though many retailers are closing Boxing Day, Wilko isn’t. If they did I expect we’d have to use holiday for that too. So generous, NOT! Doesn’t matter that we worked and continue to work through a global pandemic while HR and others are safe working at home. The Wilkinson family are long gone. Lisa Wilkinson is just a figurehead and takes no notice at what is going on in her business. This lot in charge are a greedy lot of so and so’s.

  10. Also no uplift to base rate pay on Boxing Day as it’s not classed as a bank holiday as it falls on a Saturday, Morrisons are paying staff double on Boxing Day!

  11. There are lots of companies that do this. Shops are not the only ones, thiink about the other jobs are open 365 days a year ( there are quite a few).

    • Yeah I used to work for tesco and if you didn’t want to work a bank hollday you put a paid hol in this included Easter sn and Xmas day when shop shut

  12. Digusting way to treat staff who have worked so hard in this pandemic.surely they can afford to give all staff a day off so thats one less day staff are at risk of catching covid. Think of all the workers who have been furloghed for months with 80 per cent pay. The supermarkets have been racking the money in so its just the decent thing to pay workers for christmas day and boxing day. Just two days for those working on minum wages would be a mark of gratitude and respect for all their hard work during pamdemic. Sainsburys is guilty of putting greed before need.

  13. Normal practice and has been for several years . There is a generous holiday package ,bank hols are included so you have total flexibility when to take .
    Stop trying to smear Sainsbury’s . I worked for them for 42 years and was a store manager most of them . It has always been a decent company and I was very proud to have worked for them .

  14. I thought it was OK if ask to book Xmas day as holiday if it falls on your shift day because most supermarkets worker I speak to about holiday said they’re only entitled to 4 weeks while sainsburys offer 6 weeks

  15. Pointless article, several retailers and distributors don’t pay Christmas day unless booked as annual leave.
    This has happened for years.
    And they are incorrect in stating Christmas day as being the only day the store is closed.
    Internet journalism is something in desperate need of regulating.

  16. I worked for J Sainsburys for 23 years,it has changed so much since I started, we used to have a Xmas shopping day given to us with full pay, a £100 Xmas bonus and a Xmas Turkey. All that has now gone and they have put money before there colleagues. This year the staff have been on the front line of the pandemic risking there lives for sainsburys and the company dont have the decentcy to thank there staff by closing for Boxing day

  17. I’m a carer. 12 hour shifts , no such thing as a guaranteed bank holiday in my job. I’ve got Christmas Day and Boxing Day off this year ( first time in 3 years) I am however, working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
    Tbh, really glad I have a job and wages coming in . Sooooo many more in this country without the security. Be grateful you’re working.

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