Enterprise Act 2016 – future changes to Sunday working laws

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The Enterprise Act 2016 will bring in new rights for Sunday shop workers.

At present, shop workers (except those who only work on Sundays) can give their employer three months’ notice that they would like to opt out of Sunday working. The employer is not allowed to penalise the worker or dismiss them as a result of exercising this right.

How is this going to change?

Once enacted, the Enterprise Act 2016 will give shop workers a new right to object to working more than their normal Sunday working hours. They will be protected from detriment and dismissal as a result of exercising this new right. There is no minimum service requirement to bring a claim.

The notice period for large shop workers (where internal floor space is more than 280 square metres – about the size of a tennis court) for exercising both the right to opt out of Sunday working and the right to object to working additional hours on Sunday will also be reduced from three months to one month. For all other shop workers, the notice period will remain at three months.

Within two months of the changes taking effect, employers will have to issue an explanatory statement of these rights to all shop workers who are required to work on Sundays.

The Government has not yet confirmed an implementation date but we can expect it to happen at any time.

What must employers do?

When the new law comes into force, employers will have to provide a statement explaining the rights relating to opting out and objection notices. This must be provided within two months of the start of employment or the date the provisions come into force. If the employer does not do this within the required time frame, the notice period for a shop worker’s Sunday working rights will be reduced from one month to seven days for large shop workers and from three months to one month for other shop workers.

Employers that fail to issue the explanatory statements can be ordered to pay a worker two to four weeks’ pay if the worker is successful in a separate employment tribunal claim, for example for detrimental treatment or unfair dismissal.

If you would like further advice on this topic please contact David Smedley or Andrew Rayment.