01 December 2021

Lora Murphy ACIPP, editor at the CIPP exposes Santa Claus’ workforce scandal

BREAKING: The CIPP has uncovered some serious malpractice taking place within Santa’s workshop. The elves responsible for tending to Santa’s reindeers and his sleigh, along with helping to source, prepare and pack presents, are not being paid a penny!


A new UK base

Earlier this year, our reporter discovered that Santa had opened a new distribution centre based on a remote Scottish island in the UK. Santa was quoted saying, “Distributing presents around the world in less than 24 hours is a logistical nightmare!” The new UK base was set up to ensure that Santa could deliver the gifts accurately and on time, but the CIPP can exclusively reveal that compliance is not Santa’s strong point.


National minimum wage (NMW)

Every elf is entitled to be paid at the correct NMW / national living wage (NLW) rates for the hours that they spend working. The amount of pay will be dictated by their age, which ranges from those who are in their teens to those that are hundreds of years old. The CIPP has contacted Santa to explain that he would be in extremely hot water if Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs decided to carry out a NMW audit, but we have, at the time of writing, not received a response. If Santa is as generous as he is made out to be, he should be paying his elves at the real living wage levels, which are different to those set out in NMW regulations, and currently sit at £9.90 per hour in the UK, with the exception of London, where the rate is set at £11.05 per hour.


Holiday pay

The elves are not expected to work all year round. They could be classed as zero-hours workers as work only really ramps up in the months of November and December (there is also some work available in January, which involves a mammoth clean-up operation). However, they are still entitled to a certain amount of paid holiday.

We know Santa doesn’t even pay his elves their wages, so he is most certainly not paying them any holiday pay.


Statutory payments

One of the elderly elves was unfortunately struck down with coronavirus at the end of November and should have met the eligibility criteria to be paid statutory sick pay (SSP) if Santa had paid him correctly. Working eighteen hours a day on NLW would take his average weekly earnings above £120. He would have been entitled to SSP from day one of his absence and paid for the entirety of his period of absence, which ran for ten days.


Working hours

The elves work exceptionally long, intense days. Due to the vast number of children that presents need to be delivered to, they often end up working eighteen / nineteen-hour days. This can regularly be without a break, which is in direct contravention of rules in this space. The elves are legally entitled to:

rest breaks (one uninterrupted twenty-minute rest break when more than six hours are worked in a day)

daily rests (the right to eleven hours’ rest between working days)

weekly rests (they are entitled to either an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week or an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight).

Expecting elves to work round-the-clock is a health and safety nightmare, and could mean that they end up putting themselves and others in the workplace in danger due to the impacts of extreme tiredness.


Compliance at Christmas

Although this article was intended to bring a smile to your face this festive period, and discusses the most serious breaches of compliance, businesses should still be aware of their responsibilities at all times of the year. Additional payments made to employees at Christmas need to be treated in line with regulations, and extra care may need to be taken to ensure the payroll is processed correctly. 


Featured in the December 2021 / January 2022 issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward. Correct at time of publication.