'A kick in the teeth' - Sainsbury's staff angry at Boxing Day 'gift'


The Sainsbury's branch at Longwater. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Staff at supermarket giant Sainsbury's have accused the firm of 'kicking them in the teeth' after their Boxing Day off 'thank you' turned out to be not quite the gift they were hoping for.

The store said 170,000 members of staff would get an extra day off as its supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations across the UK close on Sunday, December 26 as a thank you for their pandemic work.

However, staff have reacted angrily after it emerged they, and workers for Argos and Habitat, would actually be forced to take a day of holiday, unpaid leave or arrange an extra shift to cover as their stores will close - rather than getting the extra day of paid holiday they had expected.

One Sainsbury's colleague based in Norfolk, who did not wish to be named, said: "We have been asked to book leave (from our annual allocation) for both Christmas Day and Boxing Day or agree to take unpaid leave on these days.

"This does not chime with the kind employer message they’re putting out."

A number of other employees contacted this newspaper to say they had already been told they would either not be paid for the day or forced to take holiday.

The employee added: "I enjoy my job but the last year has been tough.

"There are times I’ve been afraid to go into work and feared for my health and the health of my family.

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"To now be told that the Boxing Day closure is for the benefit of staff is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

"Anyone who works weekends now either loses two days of holiday or just goes unpaid over the Christmas weekend.

"I don’t think that’s very kind or thoughtful for a gesture that was supposed to be thanking the staff."

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "Colleagues can choose to take paid holiday, unpaid leave or agree an alternative extra shift with their manager.

"This is in line with the rest of the industry."

Announcing the extra holiday, Sainsbury's CEO Simon Roberts said the supermarket made the move as "a massive thank you" to colleagues for a "challenging year".

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