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Usdaw submits its response to the Scottish Government consultation on New Year's Day trading for large retailers

Date: 19 August 2021 The Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 gives the Scottish Government the power to make an order by statutory instrument to close large shops on New Year's Day.
Usdaw has called on the Scottish Government to apply the relevant section of the Act for the last 14 years and welcomed the decision of the Government to consult on this matter.

New Year's Day in Scotland is a special day, but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers, who are often required to work on this day. Usdaw surveyed 1,473 of its Scottish members on their experiences of working over New Year 2018/19, and the results were clear:
  • 99 per cent of members agree that stores in Scotland should close on New Year's Day.
  • 79 per cent said that they are not happy to work on New Year's Day or 2 January.
  • 74 per cent said they spend too little time with their loved ones over New Year.
  • 72 per cent of members reported their store being fairly or very quiet on New Year's Day.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Usdaw members work incredibly hard during the festive period and are exhausted by Christmas Day. Many are only able to take one or two days off. An additional day off will give retail workers in Scotland the opportunity to rest and recuperate at the end of the busiest time of year."

"Working on New Year's Day affects retail workers' family lives, their ability to relax, unwind and enjoy the day. Furthermore, retail workers face significant difficulties in being able to work on New Year's Day as a result of a lack of public transport and childcare provision."

“Usdaw believes that now is the time to enact this legislation and give Scottish retail workers a decent break over New Year. The majority of workers in other sectors in Scotland get to enjoy the day off, and retail workers should not be excluded from this.”

Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland Tracy Gilbert said: “As key workers, shopworkers have worked long hours in difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic, faced unprecedented levels of abuse and worried about catching the virus. However, this is not just a campaign for the pandemic, our members have for many years demanded a proper break after the extremely busy and stressful shopping period in the runup to Christmas.”

“After a 14-year delay this consultation is a step forward in our campaign to get a proper break for shopworkers over the festive period.”

Comments from Scottish shopworkers responding to Usdaw’s survey:

"After the busiest time of the year it would be nice to get a proper rest without having to fight our employers for the day off.... We in retail work hard for everyone else to enjoy their Christmas and New Year, quite often being subjected to abuse from customers, while being pushed into unrealistic work demands from our employers, only to have hardly anytime with our own families and loved ones. It is demoralising."

"[My] company claim working is voluntary however everyone is under pressure to work one or the other...no one wants to work during these times. I want to spend the time with my family. It's very stressful and depressing. And my children get upset when I have to work during these special events."

"Working new year makes it hard to relax and enjoy the time off. Even when you are off you are usually too tired from working long hours when very busy in the lead up… My company said it was voluntary for staff to work yet as a manager I was told I had no choice and that I must work."

"Working in a small community, regular customers are in agreement that staff should have this day off. The store is quiet and there is no requirement for it to be open."

Note for Editors

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.

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

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