Scrooge is alive, well and probably sitting somewhere near you

Dec 15 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Employers and workers on both sides of the Atlantic are Scrooges, two surveys have suggested – refusing to allow decorations, taking home presents meant for others or simply dumping work on less fortunate colleagues.

A study by the TUC of British employers has suggested many modern day Scrooges are to be found in UK offices and factories.

Employers, it found, will turn down the heating even though there are still staff working, take home presents sent in for staff or refuse to allow the decorations to go up.

Last year the union body asked the UK's workers to email in their stories of stingy bosses at Christmas.

The most common complaints were about those who forced staff who would normally be in work on the day on which Christmas Day falls, either to lose pay or make up the time at a later date.

Equally common were gripes from staff whose penny pinching employers made them use a day from their statutory annual leave to cover the days off over the festive break.

This should change as the British government has promised to change the law so that full time employees get the UK's eight bank holidays in addition to the statutory minimum of 20 day's leave.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It would be nice to think that over the past year the ghosts from Dickens' Christmas Carol have been to see some of our modern day Ebenezer Scrooges to try to persuade them to be a little more generous to their staff at Christmas. But I fear that few of last year's worst examples will have truly mended their ways.

"Christmas should be the time when bosses show a bit of gratitude for all the hard work their staff put in all year round and spread some Christmas cheer around their workplaces.

"But sadly this show of goodwill is beyond a minority of employers, but even in those workplaces devoid of any festive spirit, staff can at the very least create their own with our easy-to-use secret Santa."

Examples of Christmas scroogery workers emailed to the TUC last Christmas included employers threatening staff who took a day off ill with the loss of their Christmas bonus, shredding Christmas cards sent to staff and taking home any presents received for themselves and giving presents to permanent employees but nothing to long-serving agency workers.

But it is not only British workers who are suffering this Christmas. A U.S study by training firm VitalSmarts has found more than three-fourths of the U.S workforce will be stressed out this holiday season by co-workers who dump work on them, abandon or fail them.

Complaints included colleagues who dumped big projects or tasks on you with very little notice and lots of year-end pressure.

Then there were those who took unplanned leave without finishing their tasks and left the rest of the team to take up the slack.

After that were the colleagues who came in late or left early, so requiring others to compensate and cover for them.

Finally, there were workers who missed deadlines in such a way that it kept others from finishing what they needed to do.

Co-author of the study Joseph Grenny, said: ""The survey showed people who experience the least amounts of holiday stress at work are capable of candidly and respectfully discussing the support they need with their boss, spouse or co-workers.

"In short, the problem is not that we have problems. The problem is that we're incapable of confronting, discussing and resolving these problems with others," he added.