Sunday trading law changes for The Olympics

Paul Maynard, Head of Employment Law at Gaby Hardwicke
Paul Maynard, Head of Employment Law at Gaby Hardwicke

The government has approved the suspension of Sunday trading hours in England and Wales for the duration of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, which run from 22 July to 9 September 2012.

During the Games shops with floor space of more than 280 square metres (“exempted large shops”) will have no restrictions on Sunday opening hours, but restrictions on loading and unloading on Sunday mornings will still apply.

The period of notice that employees must give exempted large shops if they wish to opt out of Sunday working during the Games falls from three months to two months.

The changes are part of the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Act, which was fast-tracked through parliament and recently received Royal Assent.

The government has stressed that the suspension is a temporary measure and not a test case for a permanent relaxation of Sunday trading hours restrictions.

Sussex lawyers Gaby Hardwicke are already advising several business clients on the Act’s effect on shop workers’ existing rights to opt out of Sunday working.

Paul Maynard, Head of Employment Law at Gaby Hardwicke, (pictured above) said: “It is important to emphasise that these measures will not affect the existing rights of shop workers to opt out of Sunday working – provided that Sundays are not the only day that they are contracted to work.

Curiously whilst hairdressers and security guards allocated to a particular shop are considered shop workers and enjoy the right to opt out, those engaged in the catering industry are not.

The original legislation is anomalous and ought to be completely reviewed after the Olympics.”

For advice on any employment law matter contact Paul, pictured, via email at or call him on 01323 435 900