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Surprising insights into Christmas Day workaholics

Business

From getting fired for not smiling enough to smacking kids and cannabis use, here are the weird, naughty and downright sad things Aussies searched online on Christmas Day last year.

By Adam Zuchetti5 minute read
Christmas Day work

Ever wondered what other people get up to on Christmas Day? Accountants Daily sister publication My Business did some digging and found that many Aussies can’t stop working: on their business, their finances and even their personal life.

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An insolvency expert recently urged small and medium businesses to consider closing down over the festive season, suggesting that “it could do more harm than good to keep your doors open”. That harm could be both in terms of operational costs for low sales volumes as well as burnout — particularly for the owners themselves.

Then a separate poll by SME lender OnDeck backed up those findings, suggesting that 30 per cent of Australian SME owners who have fewer than 50 staff would be working right through the festive season, and 49 per cent would have something of a break but would continue working even while on holiday.

“The Christmas/New Year period is the peak trading period of the calendar for many SMEs, so it is understandable that many small business owners are reluctant to take time off. But having some downtime over the festive season is essential to avoid burnout,” OnDeck Australia’s CEO, Cameron Poolman, said.

With this in mind, we asked several regulators, professional service providers and even the Tax Office about the volume of traffic their websites received on Christmas Day 2018, as a means of identifying how many businesspeople and professionals were working on the big day. We also asked them about the types of content that were most viewed that day.

We were thoroughly surprised by some of the things that were uncovered, and are sure you will be, too:

The Tax Office

You’d think that tax would be the last thing on anyone’s minds come Christmas time. But as a spokesperson for the ATO revealed, that’s not the case.

On the big day in 2018, the ATO website had a staggering 60,000 unique page views (albeit that was well down on the 560,000 to 570,000 views on business days earlier in December).

And for the most part, it isn’t businesses scrolling through tax information.

“Our data suggests that the majority of people accessing the ATO website on Christmas Day are individuals, with less than 14 per cent of the unique page views being of business-related content,” the spokesperson told My Business.

Still, that would suggest that at least 8,400 page views were by business leaders.

According to the ATO, its most viewed pages on Christmas Day 2018 were:

  1. The home page
  2. Calculators and tools
  3. Individual income tax rates
  4. ATO calculators
  5. Tax withheld calculators
  6. Tax file number
  7. Apply for TFN
  8. Australian residents – TFN application
  9. Individuals

The accountant

Perhaps in good news for business owners, accounting and advisory firm HLB Mann Judd said that Christmas Day “is our slowest day of the year”, with traffic volumes falling by around 90 per cent compared to other business days in December.

However, the firm told My Business there were two distinctive spikes in traffic last Christmas.

“The first and largest uplift in traffic was at 3pm and then another slight increase in traffic again at 7pm,” a spokesperson said.

And careers pages were among the most viewed that day, suggesting that (for the most part), rather than business owners seeking advice, it was accounting professionals hunting out new employment opportunities — especially after a long Christmas lunch with the family.

HLB Mann Judd said its most viewed pages on Christmas Day 2018 were:

  1. The homepage
  2. Our people
  3. Careers/Positions available
  4. Careers
  5. Taxing times for Australian expats overseas
  6. News/insights
  7. Careers/grads & students
  8. About us
  9. Services
  10. Services/Audit & assurance services

The law firm

Stacks Law Firm declined to provide the exact number of hits its website received on the day, but a spokeswoman admitted to My Business that it was “in the hundreds”, with some eye-opening patterns emerging of what people searched for.

The most read page, the firm said, was a particularly sad one for Christmas Day — an article titled: Child custody: “My ex won’t let me see my children. What can I do?”

Indeed, family matters, in combination with police actions, made up the bulk of the most viewed items. However, there were some that have a definitive focus on work (a sorry one being a post titled “Can you be fired for not smiling enough?”).

According to Stacks Law Firm, its most viewed articles on Christmas Day 2018 were:

  1. Child custody: “My ex won’t let me see my children. What can I do?”
  2. When photos break the law
  3. Drug driving – the lick test
  4. Do police have the right to search your phone in NSW?
  5. “Cannabis caution” and other civil penalties for minor criminal offences in New South Wales
  6. My ATM overpays – can I keep it?
  7. Appealing fines to Revenue NSW becoming an increasingly pointless exercise
  8. I was approached by the police. What are my rights in New South Wales?
  9. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology not to be underestimated
  10. How to avoid a driver’s licence suspension in NSW
  11. Is it legal to smack my child?
  12. Marriage, divorce and decree of nullity – what is the law in Australia?
  13. What to do when tradies stuff up
  14. When pranks break the law
  15. Can you be fired for not smiling enough?
  16. Can your boss force you to work weekends?

The ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) was established as a dispute resolution and advocacy service for business owners and operators. And so its insights are much more specifically about the self-employed.

Ombudsman Kate Carnell was on-call over the festive season last year, and admitted that she received “a few” calls from business owners on Christmas Day seeking advice.

Yet website traffic virtually crawled to a halt, with just 30 people accessing the ASBFEO’s website that day, well down on the normal volume.

“As for the... most viewed web pages on the ASBFEO website, I can tell you the top two were the home page, followed by dispute support,” a spokeswoman told My Business.

The workplace regulator

Insights from the Fair Work Ombudsman would also have been a valuable indicator of the number of employers working on Christmas Day, but sadly the FWO refused to provide any such information.

A spokesman did not elaborate on why the regulator would not disclose the requested insights.

Surprising insights into Christmas Day workaholics
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