The Bill, which was announced in the Budget, proposes to suspend Sunday Trading Laws temporarily to maximise the opportunities offered in hosting this once-in-a-lifetime event, and to show the world that the UK is open for business.
The suspension will mean that shops with a floor space of more than 280 square metres will not have any restrictions on Sunday opening hours for eight weeks, from 22 July to the end of the Paralympic Games on 9 September. After this period, the restrictions will revert back to the current position.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said:
“The London Olympic and Paralympic Games are an opportunity to showcase not just London but the whole of the United Kingdom. By suspending Sunday trading laws in England and Wales, on a temporary basis, we will not only contribute to the overall experience of visitors to the Olympics, but it will also provide a boost in sales and employment to the economy.”
“The Bill will allow more flexibility over the Olympics period, for shoppers, retailers and workers alike. Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt-out of Sunday working, but many will want to take the opportunity to work extra or different hours. So I encourage employers to talk to their staff about how we can all make the most of the Olympics.
“I also want to make it clear that this is a temporary measure and not a test case for a more permanent relaxation of the rules in the future.”
The changes will require fast tracked primary legislation, given the short period that remains before the start of the Olympics.
The Bill is expected to receive its second and third readings shortly after the House of Lords returns from recess. From there it will then follow the same process in the House of Commons and if successfully passed, it is expected that it will receive Royal Assent at the beginning of May.
Notes to Editors
1. The suspension will apply in England and Wales only. Scotland does not have Sunday trading legislation (meaning that large shops are already free to trade without restriction on Sundays). Northern Ireland has its own Sunday trading legislation and is not proposing to alter it.
2. The Government has undertaken to hold discussions before second reading in the House of Lords on 24 April with the Opposition, retailers, employers’ groups and unions with a view to tabling a Government amendment to ensure the protection of shop workers.
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