Office for National Statistics
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Health and care workers top the table for Christmas Day working

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at Christmas 2020 the world seems a very different place than it did in festive seasons in years past, with many sectors of the economy affected by measures to fight it.

We do not yet know how many people will be working on 25 and 26 December this year, but the Office for National Statistics has just released figures for Christmas working in 2018, the latest year available.

In all, 1.1 million employees worked on Christmas Day 2018 and 1.7 million worked on Boxing Day.

The occupations with the most people working on Christmas Day were:

  • care workers and home carers (166,000)
  • nurses (112,000)
  • nursing auxiliaries and assistants (66,000)
  • chefs (36,000)
  • medical practitioners (31,000)

Not surprisingly, the industry with the highest proportion of staff at work was health and social work, at 11.2%, followed by accommodation and food services at 8.6%

For Boxing Day, the picture was slightly different. Again, care workers and home carers came top, with 158,000 of them at work, but with many shops opening for the sales, the next highest group was sales and retail assistants, at 126,000. The industry with the highest proportion working on this day was accommodation and food services (13.4%), followed by health and social work (10.9%) and wholesaling and retailing, at 9.4%.

Commenting on the figures, ONS Head of Labour market David Freeman said:

"Our country's health and care workers have been very much in our thoughts this year, but these figures remind us that people working in these areas are often passing up on things like spending Christmas Day with their families even in a more normal year."  

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