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Elves and Employment: Decoding the Legal Magic of Santa's Workshop

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

As the magical twinkle of Christmas day draws near, I found myself contemplating whether Santa's enchanting workshop would dance to the rhythm of New Zealand's employment laws.

Now, let's be clear – Santa's factory isn't nestled in some bustling city in New Zealand; it's up at the North Pole, a place known for its scarcity of inhabitants and, conveniently, stringent employment laws. Santa's workshop, with all its magical toy-making prowess, doesn't operate under the scrutiny of New Zealand's employment laws. It's a realm where elves, reindeer, and perhaps a snowman or two, dance to a different legal tune.

But what if, just for the sake of holiday merriment, we imagined Santa's operation under the watchful eye of Kiwi employment regulations?

Are Santa's Elves Employees or Volunteers?

There is no suggestion that Santa's elves receive payment for the work they complete, but this doesn't automatically make them volunteers. The Employment Relations Act 2000 defines an employee as "... any person of any age employed by an employer to do work for hire or reward under a contract of service." This is a broad test that requires a consideration of "the real nature of the relationship between them." There is no question that the elves are perfoming "work": Santa assigns work to the elves, he provides their uniforms, and he supplies the tools and equipment required for them to perform their role.

The crux of the matter lies in whether Santa's elves are truly receiving a reward for their ceaseless service. While the specifics of elf compensation remain shrouded in mystery, North Pole folklore generously mentions certain perks: cozy accommodation and an enchanting array of magical and delightful food.

Consider, for a moment, a hypothetical factory worker toiling away on the factory floor year-round, only to be compensated with room and board. In the real world, we might swiftly cry "exploitation," especially if this hardworking soul found themselves in a remote corner of New Zealand accessible only by plane (or sleigh). Why should Santa get a pass?

Is Santa adhering to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015?

While the elves are busy crafting gifts in the workshop, it's essential to ponder whether Santa is up to snuff with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Picture this: a bustling toy factory with elves hammering, sawing, and wrapping at warp speed.

I can't help but envision a distinct lack of safety gear. Has Santa considered the potential hazards his elves face in their toy-making escapades? A protective helmet could shield them from rogue toy parts, eyewear might fend off glitter-related incidents, and safety gloves could be the unsung heroes guarding against paper cuts from the flurry of wrapping.

Imagine the elves decked out in hi-vis vests, ensuring they're seen and appreciated in the bustling workshop chaos. Ear protection would guard against excessive jingle bell noise, and a dust mask might save them from inhaling clouds of enchanted sawdust.

... and that's just the phyical 'risks' to health and safety. In considering the excessive number of hours the Elves are required to work to meet Santa's unrealistic production quotas, I would be concerned that the Elves would be at risk of suffering from burnout, or other stress-related conditions.

Santa, it's time to prioritize the well-being of your magical workforce. Health and safety should be non-negotiable.

Is Santa engaging in Discriminatory Employment Practices?

There appears to be no diversity in Santa's hiring practices: only employing elves (and the occasional reindeer). While I understand that elves are renowned for their magical craftsmanship, one can't help but wonder if there's a broader pool of mystical talent out there yearning for a chance at toy-making glory. Are the reindeer occupying roles only because they're part of Santa's inner circle? It's high time the workshop doors swung open to other fantastical creatures. Who wouldn't want to see a team of gnomes crafting gingerbread houses or fairies sprinkling extra magic dust on the holiday trinkets?

In the spirit of fairness and equality, Santa might consider expanding his horizons. Perhaps a diverse team could bring new perspectives to the toy-making process, ensuring that every child receives a gift that resonates with their unique wishes. After all, why limit the workshop to just elves when the magical realm is brimming with potential candidates eager to contribute their enchanting skills?

Does Santa's Workshop have a Bullying Culture?

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph

Join in any reindeer games

While the endearing narrative tells us that Rudolph's red nose ultimately won him acceptance, let's not get too holly-jolly just yet. There's a deeper, less festive question looming over the North Pole: Does Santa's Workshop have a bullying culture?

Now, I'm not here to dampen the holiday spirit, but the evidence is right there in the lyrics. "All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games." Sounds like a bit more than a jolly sing-along, doesn't it?

While we're quick to cheer for Rudolph's triumphant rise to sleigh-guiding fame, let's not forget the not-so-jolly part of the story. The fact that this tale is sung with a light-hearted tune doesn't negate the fact that bullying is woven into the festive fabric. Is Santa turning a blind eye to this problem?

It's time to address the workshop dynamics. Are the elves, reindeer, and other magical folk working in an environment free from ridicule and name-calling? Is there a zero-tolerance policy for shenanigans like those that poor Rudolph endured? The North Pole should be a place of unity and festive camaraderie, not a stage for reindeer antics reminiscent of a high school comedy.


In the hypothetical scenario where Santa decided to set up shop in New Zealand, it's not sugarplum fairies and candy canes on the horizon but a potential sleigh full of legal troubles. The risk of breaching numerous employment laws could pave the way for a colossal monetary claim, potentially ranking as one of the largest in New Zealand's history. Santa, in this unfortunate scenario, might find his merry empire facing financial ruin, and the jingle of bankruptcy might drown out the joyful carols of the season.


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