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Sunday Trading Hours

Responding to concerns over COVID19 and trading hours

11 June 2020

Response from Sir Peter to proposals to amend Sunday Trading hours

The Government has announced it is reviewing the regulations around Sunday Trading hours in the wake of the Covid-19 public health crisis. The impact the pandemic has had on the economy has been unprecedented and it is only sensible to explore how Government can help encourage growth and recovery.


The provisional plans for the relaxation of the laws would be in place for a year and allow retailers and businesses who would usually be forced to stick to rigid opening hours to remain open longer in similar ways to smaller convenience stores.


There are many who are concerned of the impact this will have on employees and the fears that these changes will lead to many being put in difficult positions by their employers. Fortunately, from what can be seen from the provisional plans, these changes would not effect the rights of people to reject additional hours or work longer than what the current regulations allow. These changes, therefore, would allow those who want to work more hours the ability to do so.


Some worker groups have criticised the plans over safety of staff during the pandemic and have said this would put more people at risk. It is not clear what the reasoning behind such complaints are. As has been seen since the changing back to longer opening hours by supermarkets, the likely change would be fewer people moving through supermarkets at any one time. This staggering of numbers throughout the day, if anything, would probably be safer than the higher concentration into shorter opening hours that we currently see. 


Whilst many are fearful over the long-term view of such changes on peoples lives outside of work, as well as the feat that such a change would be made permanent, it is important to realise that these changes for the time being are only temporary. Employee rights and regulations remain intrinsically protected.


Provided employees can still finish early as current rules allow and reject staying longer, then the new working hours should only apply to those who want to work.


Many sectors already have staff who work longer hours on a Sunday (e.g. hospitality, some manufacturers, couriers, emergency and public services), showing these changes may not be as drastic as many fear.


We should appreciate that there are a lot of people in modern Britain whose lives no longer fit the standard Monday to Friday pattern. This flexibility would be appreciated my many.


The results remain to be seen, and I will take all concerns into account. But it is only right that in an unprecedented time, with unemployment at its worse levels for decades, that all measures be considered fairly.