In order to give shop owners a better chance to compete with online retailers, the Government is planning to change the face of Sunday working by letting large shops open for longer. This will only affect employers in England and Wales, and only to shops of more than 280 square metres (3000 square feet). Currently these shops can only open for 6 consecutive hours on a Sunday between 10am and 6pm. Shops smaller (up to and including 280 square metres) have no restrictions on their trading hours. ‘Shops’ includes betting shops.

The Government has decided that local authorities will be given the power to decide whether large shops in their area can open for longer. The will effectively be able to pick and choose which shops in their area can open for longer on Sundays.

Employment rights for shop and betting workers will be tightened to correspond with the extension in trading hours.

Currently, shop and betting workers have the legal right to opt out of Sunday working by giving their employer three months’ notice. When the trading hours restrictions change, the Government will reduce the opt out notice period from three months to one month for those who work in large shops. The opt out period in small shops will not change.

Shop workers will also get a new right to opt out of working more than their normal Sunday hours by giving one month’s notice in large shops; and three months’ notice in small shops.

Employers will need to give shop and betting workers information on where to get advice and support about their rights on Sunday working, in addition to telling them what their rights are. Failure to do this will automatically reduce the opt out notice periods and could, in some circumstances, lead to an award of 2 weeks’ pay at employment tribunal.