So-called Sunday working protections will mean little or nothing to shopworkers says Usdaw

Date: 12 February 2016 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has criticised the weakness of Government proposed protections for shopworkers alongside devolving Sunday trading regulations to local authorities.

BIS has published their amendments to the Enterprise Bill that will hand control of Sunday trading regulations to over 300 local councils and mayors across England and Wales. At the same time they propose to reduce the notice period for shopworkers to opt-out of Sunday working and allow them to opt-out of working longer hours on a Sunday.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Many shopworkers find they are unable to use the current Sunday opt-out due to pressure from management and the possible loss of working hours, which most cannot afford. For these reasons the Government’s so-called protections will mean little or nothing in practice.

“When MPs and Peers debate the amendments they should understand that the threat of much longer opening on Sunday is in no way mitigated by these employment measures.

“Usdaw’s survey of over 10,000 shopworkers shows that the vast majority of shopworkers are already working at least some Sundays, and most work every Saturday as well.  The restriction to 6 hours of Sunday opening is important to them because it is often their only guaranteed ‘family time’ – especially if they have children at school in the week, or partners who work weekdays.

"35% of staff in large stores currently want to work less hours on Sundays,  58% say they are already under pressure to work Sundays when they don’t want to and more than a third of staff were ‘not usually’ or ‘never’ allowed a Sunday off. Sunday is important family time when children are not at school and carers find it difficult to arrange suitable care when they have to work on Sundays. 

“The Government has failed to listen to Usdaw, as the shopworkers’ trade union, and retail employers. They have ignored the views, research and evidence of everyone who recognises that devolution of Sunday trading will strangle the sector in red tape. Having over 300 different regulatory regimes across the UK, with random zones and seasonable variations, will be confusing for customers and is a nightmare scenario for retailers and staff alike. Consistent shift patterns for many staff, particularly parents and carers, is absolutely crucial for them to balance work with life and make a living. The chaos that devolution of Sunday trading will bring will have a detrimental effect on family life.

“The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw survey of retail staff: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=e401039e-75f9-4675-8216-56fa579b65b0

The BIS Consultation closed on 16 September and applies to England and Wales:
- https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/devolving-sunday-trading-rules 
- https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/498773/bis-16-2-sunday-trading-government-response.pdf

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers