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Open all hours and changing work times

Published 08 July 2015

Government plans to extend Sunday opening hours are expected to give large retailers a huge boost.

The announcement expected in today’s (Wed, 8 July) budget is likely to create thousands of jobs across the country and increase profits by hundreds of millions of pounds.

According to reports just two hours’ extra Sunday trading in London alone would bring nearly 3,000 jobs and £200million a year extra income.

The idea of working a traditional 9 to 5 is consigned to a bygone era – along with that Dolly Parton 1980s hit song.

While the announcement by the Treasury may be good news for retailers it is likely to pile extra pressure on shop workers to do Sunday shifts.

Employment patterns may have changed since the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, but employers in any industry requiring existing staff to work new or longer hours must adhere to current law.

Employees cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week, although there are some exceptions to the rule which include the armed forces, emergency services and where 24-hour staffing is required. Under 18s cannot normally work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Adults prepared to work more than a 48-hour week can opt out, and do so indefinitely or for an agreed period of time as long as it is voluntary and put in writing. There are some employees who cannot opt out and among them are workers on ships or boats and airline staff. A worker who refuses to opt out should not suffer unfavourable treatment.

Any contract alterations need to be agreed as an employer needs an employee’s agreement in order to change their hours of work.

If agreement can be reached it should be put in writing, the written statement of employment conditions updated and the employer should also write to the worker/s within a month detailing exactly what has changed.

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