Sunday working Rights
With the festive season well underway and retailers hoping for bumper sales this Christmas, it seems there are lots of on-going debates about shop opening times, and the rights for shop workers. A recent petition calling for a ban on shops opening on Boxing Day attracted more than 200,000 signatures. Among the petitions’ thousands of signatories are a large number of retail workers, many of whom wished to voice their argument personally. A similar petition launched last year received an official response from the Government saying, “We do not believe it is for central Government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers. Therefore we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”
In 2014 Christmas Sales spending on Boxing Day hit £702m, but was topped by last years’ Boxing Day spend of £856m (Source: Experian-IMRG), so it seems that the festive spending tradition on Boxing Day is not likely to be quashed any time soon as a result of such petitions.
However, never one to miss an opportunity to share our HR knowledge (and especially in the spirit of ‘giving’ at Christmas time) at C4HR we felt it might be a prudent time to remind all our readers of the rights of workers working Sundays. So here’s a quick update on the legal side of things as well as a brief update on some changes coming your way.
The current relevant law outlining Sunday workers rights is the Sunday Trading Act 1994. The rights provided by the Act are statutory rights. This means they apply regardless of anything in the contract of employment. However, workers recruited to work on Sundays only are not protected.
Shop & Betting workers have the following rights related to working Sundays:
Shop workers who started their employment on or before 26th August 1994 (2nd January 1995 for betting workers) have the right not to work on Sundays unless they are employed to work Sundays only.
Shop/betting workers who started their employment on or after the above dates and who are required to work on a Sunday under their employment contract can give three months’ notice to their employer, in writing, of opting out of Sunday work
Shop/betting workers in either of the two categories above can decide to opt-in to Sunday work if they wish to by giving their employer written notice.
Employers must tell employees of their Sunday working rights when they first start work. This explanation must be prescribed in written format and issued to the employee within two months of the individual agreeing to do Sunday work. If this is not done then the individual only has to give the employer one months’ notice of opting out of Sunday work.
No worker can be subjected to a detriment for refusing to work on Sundays. Likewise, dismissal or selection for redundancy for refusing to work on Sundays is automatically unfair. These rights are now found in the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Plans to allow local authorities to extend Sunday trading hours were recently defeated in the House of Commons, and the Government is pressing ahead with increased shop workers rights on Sunday working. This is being proposed through the Enterprise Act 2016. They include the right for shop workers to object to working more than their normal hours on a Sunday; and a reduction in the notice period for shop workers in large shops to opt out of Sunday working.
A start date for the changes to the rules has yet to be disclosed.
For more details and advice regarding any of the above please feel free to get in touch. In the meantime, we hope you are enjoying the build up to the festive season!