Seven per cent of the workforce will be at work over Christmas, according to a poll carried out on Reed's on-line job site. More than half also say that they would work over the period if the price was right and their employers paid them a bonus.
The poll suggests that almost two million people will be working over Christmas with 56 per cent saying they would like to – a figure that rises to 64 per cent of under 25s – if employers offered financial incentives.
In the retail and service industries, however, the element of choice is missing. Over half a million people told the poll that their jobs meant that they had to work over Christmas whether they wanted to or not.
"As I work for a company that does 70 per cent of its business at this time of year, there is no option other than to work," one retailer told the poll of over 5,000 workers.
As well as a large number of employees working through Christmas, around 40 per cent will only be taking the statutory minimum holidays of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The nature of Christmas is changing, says Reed. Half of the respondents said that they enjoy Christmas less than they did five years ago while a third was doubtful as to whether they would have a family Christmas get together
"Is the increasingly secular nature of British society bringing about the Death of Christmas? I hope not, but since companies have become more commercial in their approach to Christmas, employees are now willing to exploit this opportunity.
"Of the two million who are working throughout the Christmas period, interestingly 70 per cent of them say this is their choice. However, most people expect their employers will recognise this as exceptional effort on their part, and reward it accordingly," said Paul Rapacioli, director of reed.co.uk.