With debate taking place in Parliament, I know that many constituents want safeguards put in place to ensure that Sunday does not become like any other day.
Current Sunday trading rules were established more than 20 years ago. They haven’t kept pace with the way our world has changed. Now the rise of the internet means shoppers can shop online 24 hours a day, which is why our outdated laws need a rethink.
It’s right that local leaders, who know their area best, can take decisions on whether they want to extend Sunday trading in their own local area. This would help rejuvenate our high streets, allow families to spend leisure time together in town centres and create more jobs and security for working people. Local councils, and their voters, should have the opportunity to decide if that is what is best for, and what is wanted in, their particular areas rather than having something decided for them centrally.
However, Sundays remain special for many people and it is important that workers have some opportunity to opt-out of increased Sunday hours or working on a Sunday at all.
Parliament is now debating legislation which would give powers to local leaders to extend Sunday trading. This follows a public consultation during which the majority of responses from local authorities, large and medium sized business respondents, and business representative organisations were in favour of the proposal to devolve decision making on extending Sunday trading rules to a local level.
The proposed measures will not be introduced at the expense of shop workers. Those who don’t want to work on Sundays won’t have to. In fact, the Government is strengthening the powers available for people to say no, by shortening the opt-out notice period and giving those who already work on Sundays a new right to prevent extra hours they don’t want or need.
There would be a reduction in the notice period that shop workers in large shops must give their employer to opt out of Sunday working altogether, from three months to one month. Shop workers would also be given a new right to opt out of working longer hours than usual on Sundays, subject to one month notice period at large shops and three months’ notice at small shops.
Alongside this, employers will have a duty to inform, advise and clarify these rights to workers at every step, and I welcome the Government’s commitment to be tough on those who don’t comply. To ensure that this occurs, the current proposal is only to trial this devolution in a few areas, and then proceed only if it is successful. It is right that the Government proceeds more slowly in cases like these to ensure that any changes are carried out in the right way.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.