More than 900,000 set to work on Christmas Day in UK

Not everyone will be spending Christmas Day round the tree this year - in fact more than 900,000 people will be at work, a study shows.

NHS staff will be among more than 900,000 working on Christmas Day. Picture: Getty Images
NHS staff will be among more than 900,000 working on Christmas Day. Picture: Getty Images

Research by the TUC suggested that 42,000 more people will not have a day off on December 25 compared with three years ago.

Nurses, doctors, chefs, bar staff, security guards, police officers and clergy are among those for whom the day will be like any other.

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One of those is Simon, a marine engineer from Plymouth, who cannot give his full name because his ship is carrying politically sensitive material.

He said: “The ship needs running 24/7. Three of us will be on board all week, for the engine room.”

It will be the normal routine for Simon and his crewmates, starting at 8am before they eventually share a Christmas dinner.

“I’m not really feeling it this year to be honest,” Simon said, despite having an onboard Secret Santa.

Maritime Christmases run in the family, he said: “My father works at sea as well, so he spends the majority of his Christmases away too. It’s part of how it is.”

This year, Simon is counting down the days with a Wera tools advent calendar, which instead of chocolate holds tool-kit components like sockets and screwdriver heads.

It is his third Christmas on board ship, though since it is berthed in the North West he is closer to home than last year.

“I worked with the British Antarctic Survey in the previous company so I was down in Antarctica last Christmas.

“It was cool, very good. We were carrying scientists down to the Antarctic base, so there were plenty of people on board.”

A microbiologist, who did not want to reveal her name, was told on Wednesday that she would be working at Christmas.

“I’m extremely angry about this,” she said.

“My grandmother will be having dinner with us - she’s 75, and takes a lot of medication because of health problems which means she will be away home before I’m even finished work, so I won’t get to see her.”

Hers is a job which has to carried out, Christmas or not: “Because we test fresh food it has to be tested on the same day it arrives.

“There won’t be an awful lot to do on Christmas, but we are still expected to work 8:30-5 on Christmas Day while management have the day off.”

But it is not all wine and roses for managers. Some, like Tash Khan, who is the managing director of the luxury florist Appleyard London, sacrifice their Christmas Day so their employees get a break.

Mr Khan, 40, from Shoreditch, east London, said this is because people spend more time online at Christmas.

“If you send out an email on Christmas, you get twice as many people who opened the email than actually do on a normal day, I think because they’re bored at home,” he said.

“They look at their phone, and emails that they wouldn’t normally open, they open them. You actually find that you actually do quite well on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.”

Mr Khan will work a normal 9-5 before going home to his wife.

“We’d normally go to my parents, or her parents, but we won’t be doing any of that - I’m going to be in the office during the day,” he said.

“It’s not like a normal day, but it’s a bit more festive. It’s going to be a lot more relaxed, there might be some mince pies and mulled wine.”

Spare a thought for the solitary security guards. Tommy Tomlinson, 24, will be working from 6am-6pm guarding machinery against would-be intruders.

There will be no decorations up in the security office, but Mr Tomlinson, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, can look forward to Christmas dinner with his family after work.

“My parents have decided to make dinner time for when I will finish work, even though I told them to eat as normal,” he said.

Working at Christmas is “just part of the job”, Mr Tomlinson added.

“I Would prefer to be off but someone needs to do it and it’s just this year that it’s happened to be me.”