Published on 2 - May - 2012
Sunday Trading Laws to be suspended during OlympicsA Bill to suspend the Sunday Trading Laws, which restrict opening hours to six continuous hours between 10am and 6pm, received Royal Assent in government this week, meaning all shops with relevant floor space over 280 sq m (3,000sq ft) can open longer during the London Olympics.
Not all retailers are pleased that they may have to work during the 2012 Olympics
Smaller shops are not affected by the current Sunday trading restrictions (set in the 1994 Act), so their freedom to trade on Sundays will not be affected by the decision.
The suspension will apply for eight Sundays from July 22 until the end of the Paralympic Games on September 9. Given the short timetable before the Games begin, the Government has tabled an amendment to temporarily reduce the usual period of notice that employees must give their employers if they wish to opt out of Sunday working from three months to as little as two months.
Ministers called the move "a fantastic opportunity to showcase not just London but the whole of the country to the rest of the world and provide a boost for the economy, sales and employment."
Business Minister Mark Prisk added: "Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt-out of Sunday working, but many will want to take the opportunity to work extra or different hours."
This viewpoint was strongly challenged by shopworker members of the USDAW trade union, however, which accused the government of "forcing through" the Bill.
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: "The Government again failed to make a coherent and convincing case for the Bill and it became clear during [the] debate that only a handful of large commercial interests who would prefer a permanent deregulation of Sunday trading backed the temporary suspension."
"The vast majority of shopworkers are against longer Sunday opening hours and they will be bitterly disappointed by the vote. Thousands of our members contacted their MP to ask them to vote against this Bill and they will feel let down by the many MPs who failed to recognise the importance of shopworkers having time off with their families."
"While the Government has said this Bill is only a temporary measure, Usdaw will monitor the situation very closely and we will campaign hard against any further deregulation should the Coalition fail to live up to its commitment."
The suspension only applies in England and Wales, as Scotland does not have Sunday trading legislation and Northern Island is not proposed to alter its own Sunday rules.
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