The government has decided to move ahead with its plan to loosen the restriction on Sunday trading hours in England and Wales, despite opposition from shop workers union USDAW, religious groups and high profile politicians.
At the moment, large shops in England and Wales (ie those with over 280 square metres of floor space) are allowed to open for only six hours on a Sunday, between 10 am and 4 pm.
The government is proposing to allow councils to extend those hours, to allow retailers the flexibility to compete for trade. Councils will also be able to restrict the longer hours to certain zones, such as high streets and city centres, although there are fears that the additional hours will benefit large chains to the detriment of independent high street stores.
An additional proposal is to make it easier for those who work on a Sunday to opt out of doing so. At the moment, all employees (including those in Scotland) can opt out of Sunday working by providing three months’ notice. Under the new proposal, the required period of notice to opt out would be reduced to one month.
It remains to be seen whether the proposals will become law, given the strong likelihood of cross-party opposition in Parliament.