Sunday working rights are legal rights given to shop and betting workers. Workers in these industries cannot be forced to work on Sundays, as they are able to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of Sunday working.

The rights are given to workers of any religion. Of course, failure to allow time off on Sunday may have a particular impact on Christian employees, and potential discrimination claims need to be taken into account.

The definition of ‘shop’ is taken to include hairdressers, hire businesses, and auctioneers, protection is limited to these categories. However employees working in the catering trade are not covered by the legislation, broadly speaking.

The rules are complicated, and depend on contractual arrangements and when the job in question started.

Put briefly, where the job began before 1994 (shop workers) and 1995 (betting industry workers) any contractual requirements for Sunday work are null and void, unless a statutory “opting-in” process is followed.

Workers whose contract specifically excludes the possibility of Sunday working, again, cannot be forced to work on Sundays unless the statutory opting-in process has been followed.

Post 1994/1995-recruited workers who may be or have been required to work on Sundays must follow an opting-out process, under which the employer can require Sunday work from day 1, but must give them notice of their right to opt-out within 2 months in specific terms which require a response within 3 months. The 3 month period will be shortened if the employer does not meet the 2 month deadline.

In terms of employees’ ability to enforce these rights, this is very limited. Other than where there may be discrimination on religious grounds or there has been some detriment or dismissal, employees have no rights of enforcement at all. So, even if an employer were to put considerable pressure, and financial incentives, on Sunday work, there is no sanction unless the employee can show some detriment.

Contact Springhouse Employment Law Solicitors for expertise on Sunday working rights.

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Updates: For employers: Holiday and working time |
Tagged with: Working time |

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