Sunday trading laws relaxed for the Olympics
Employment Law & HR update 01/05/2012
The laws on Sunday trading in England and Wales will be relaxed
for the period of the Olympic Games, the Government has confirmed
today (1st May). This means that shops will be able to open for as
long as they wish on eight consecutive Sundays, between 22nd July
and 9th September inclusive.
But the move has implications for shop workers, who might be
asked to work longer hours to suit, and so affected workers are
being given the opportunity to “opt out” of the requirement to work
Sundays, either permanently or for the duration of the Games.
Here we answer some questions you might have:
Which law is being relaxed during the Olympic
The law which limits Sunday trading hours in most large shops
(i.e. those with a floor area over 3000 sq ft / 280 sq m in England
and Wales is being suspended for a temporary period of 8
consecutive Sundays between 22nd July and 9th September inclusive.
Shops may still be subject to local byelaws and regulations
governing their permitted opening hours.
What are the rules about shop workers and
Put simply, workers who are not employed only to work on Sundays
can “opt out” of being required to work on Sundays by giving their
employer 3 months’ notice in writing.
Can shop workers “opt out” of Sunday working
during the Olympic Games?
Yes. For workers in large shops only, the law is being changed
on a temporary basis, so that any worker who gives a minimum of two
months’ notice to his or her employer can opt out of Sunday
working, either for the duration of the Games or permanently.
If a worker only wants to opt out of Sunday working for the
period of the Olympic Games, her or she must say so in writing in
the opt-out notice and will be taken to have automatically
”opted-in” again from Sunday 16th September.
How do workers serve notice?
A worker who does not want to work on any Sundays during the
Games must serve notice on his or her employer by 21st May at the
latest. If a worker gives notice on or before 21st May, then the
notice is deemed to expire on 21st July, making 22nd July the first
Sunday the employee could benefit from opting out of Sunday
The two month notice period continues to apply until 8th
Any shop worker who gives notice on or after 9th July must give
three months’ notice.
What about workers in small shops?
Workers in small shops will not benefit from this change and
will always have to serve three months’ notice if they wish to opt
out of Sunday working.
I own a small shop and want to extend opening
hours during the Olympics. Can I do this?
Shops smaller than 3000 sq ft / 280 sq m are unaffected by any
of these changes. There are no national restrictions on Sunday
opening hours, but local byelaws and restrictions may apply.
Before you ask staff to work longer hours on Sundays, check to
see what their contracts of employment say about working hours and
take advice if you are in any doubt.
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