What are the restrictions on Sunday working for retail and betting workers?

There are special laws in place covering Sunday working for betting shop and retail workers, including workers on race tracks. The law changed when Sunday trading was introduced, allowing small shops and betting shops to trade on Sundays and larger shops to trade for six consecutive hours on Sundays.

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994, all shop and betting shop workers can opt out of Sunday working, unless Sunday is their only working day.

They can opt out at any time, even if they agreed to work Sundays in their contract of employment, by giving at least three months’ notice. An employer is not allowed to reject this notice.

At the end of the notice period, the employer can no longer require the worker to work on Sundays.

Employers must give their staff written notice of their right to opt out, within two months of their employment start date. If they fail to do this, staff need only give one month’s notice to opt out.

Your employer must not subject you to a 'detriment', for example, denying you a pay rise because you opted out of Sunday working. Dismissal because you opted out of Sunday working will be automatically unfair.

The government has introduced changes to the rules that allow staff to opt out of Sunday working. These changes are contained in the Enterprise Act 2016. They are not yet in force. Once in force, the rules will change as follows:

  • The notice period to opt out of Sunday working will be shortened from three months to one month for workers who work in large shops (shops with an internal floor area of at least 280m²). For workers in smaller shops, the notice period will stay at three months.
  • Workers in large and small shops (excluding betting shops) will be able to object to working extra hours on Sunday beyond their normal Sunday working hours, by giving the employer an objection notice. One month will be needed for this notice for workers in large shops, and three months’ notice for workers in small shops. Employers will not be allowed to reject an objection notice.
  • Employers will be required to provide an explanatory statement to new recruits and to all existing employees who may be required to work on Sundays, once the new rules become law. Failure to do this will cut the notice period to seven days for workers in large shops and one month for all other workers. There will be a right to compensation in the employment tribunal if this notice is not provided.
  • As is the case under the existing scheme, workers who are employed to work only on Sundays will continue to be excluded from the right to opt out.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.