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Improved Sunday working protections for shopworkers are a welcome step forward says Usdaw

Date: 10 March 2016 Following last night’s Government defeat on devolving Sunday trading hours to local authorities, shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed the improved Sunday working protections for shopworkers that remain in the Enterprise Bill.

Under the new provisions, the notice period for shopworkers in large stores to opt-out of Sunday working reduces from three months to one month. In addition, all shopworkers will be able to opt-out of working more hours on a Sunday than they have recently worked on average; this is likely to be only available to those with at least twelve months’ service with their current employer.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are obviously delighted that last night MPs from all parties voted to keep Sunday special, which is what the overwhelming majority of our members wanted. We are also pleased that the improved employment protections for shopworkers have remained in the Bill.

“These enhanced employment rights address a current problem under the existing restricted Sunday trading laws, but would in no way have been adequate had shops been allowed to open longer. Under the current law, our survey of over 10,000 shopworkers shows that around two-thirds come under pressure to work more hours on a Sunday than they want; many cite caring responsibilities and family reasons for not wanting the extra hours.

“So the new legal right allowing shopworkers to stick to their existing hours is a welcome step forward and will make a real difference to those currently struggling to balance work and home responsibilities. The new right doesn’t stop workers accepting additional hours if they wish, but does allow them to refuse if they either can’t or don’t want to. Usdaw will be promoting this right to our members and advising them of their right to opt-out when the law comes into force.

“We believe that MPs struck the right balance last night. Whilst enhancing workers rights they upheld the fair compromise that has works well 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://usd.aw/SundaySurveyReport

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

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