As everyone begins to turn their mind to sleigh bells ringing and children singing and all that Christmas jazz, an equal pay issue has erupted in the grotto.
Recent job adverts for a Santa Claus and Mrs Claus stationed at the deluxe, five star Celtic Manor resort in Newport have caused outrage with Union leaders as it turns out Santa Claus will be on £12 an hour, but Mrs Claus will only be on the minimum wage of £6.70.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said of the situation, “The season of good will is off to a bad start at Christmas Kingdom. The company’s claim that the Santa role requires more responsibility is not reflected in their advertisements for the jobs, which are identical for duties and other requirements. This makes it look very likely to be a breach of the Equality Act.
“The best thing the company can do to keep the Christmas spirit intact at Christmas Kingdom is admit they have got it wrong and do the right thing by paying both roles equally.”
However, the hotel’s bosses are adamant that the two roles are very different. A spokesman said: “Santa Claus and Mrs Claus perform very different roles at the Christmas Kingdom event.
“Santa Claus plays the lead role in the Santa’s Grotto Experience and is the star attraction for the vast majority of our young visitors.
“The role requires a very particular set of skills and carries considerable expectations of character and appearance as he interacts personally with all his visitors.
“Mrs Claus, along with the Christmas Kingdom elves, has more of a supporting role, guiding and assisting groups of children in preliminary activities while they wait to see Santa.
“While it is an important job, it does not carry the same responsibility as the role of Santa.
“The difference in pay reflects only the more skilled requirements and responsibilities of the Santa role and is, in no way, indicative of a gender pay divide at Christmas Kingdom. The Celtic Manor Resort remains a committed equal opportunities employer.”
Whether or not the roles are similar enough to warrant equal pay, given that the duties of the two positions include being “jovial and happy at all times”, let’s hope that the matter comes to a swift and merry end.