SANTA Claus' headquarters in Lapland would be an epicentre of litigation if employment regulations and EU law were imposed or observed during the run up to Christmas.

But the potential for legal action in a fantasy land could provide some real insights to be carried over into the real world of employment.

Employment lawyer Jonathan Whittaker, of Cheshire law firm SAS Daniels, says Santa's workshops would provide a field day for lawyers looking after the interests of his staff.

"There's no doubt that Santa would find himself paying thousands in compensation and possibly even be banged up if the working practices applied at his workshops were present in a real world place of employment," said Jonathan.

"For starters, while the elves may well have been planning, producing and sourcing perennial high-demand toys such as train sets, rocking horses and bicycles during the year, most children will have started to hand in their Christmas lists quite late in the day - and they will often list items which are in high-demand or short supply.

"This could lead to the elves working longer than the 48- hour working week and being subjected to unreasonable stress and pressure, possibly causing sickness and absence.

"This could lead to disputes and quite possibly litigation - there are clear parallels with the real world here.

"The application of EU laws - which apply in Lapland - would also mean Christmas Eve would last for four days as Santa would be obliged to take statutory breaks during the delivery round, plus rest time in between shifts.

"This would mean that Santa will have to work quicker, meaning more work in less time risking injury to both himself and his reindeer.

"If Santa stuck to the rules, then he would still be delivering three days after Christmas - a bit like some online retailers - and children getting their presents on December 28 are unlikely to appreciate Santa putting his feet up for a few hours in between deliveries.

"Nevertheless, back in the real world this serves to remind employers and employees that there are rules and regulations relating to breaks and time off, and they risk potential stress-related claims if those rules and regulations are broken."