The Bill to suspend Sunday trading laws during the Olympic and Paralympic Games received Royal Assent today after it passed the remaining stages in the House of Commons last night.
The Bill, which was announced in the Budget 2012, will mean that shops with a relevant floor area of more than 280sq m (approximately 3,000sq ft) will not be subject to current Sunday trading restrictions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The government said today the suspension would only be for eight Sundays, from 22 July to the end of the Paralympic Games on 9 September. After this period the current Sunday trading restrictions would apply again.
Given the short timetable before the start of the Games, the government tabled an amendment to temporarily reduce the usual period of notice that employees must give their employers if they wish to opt out of Sunday working, from three months to as little as two months.
Business minister Mark Prisk said: “The Olympic and Paralympic Games are almost upon us and you can sense the excitement building. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase, not just London, but the whole of the country to the rest of the world and provide a boost for the economy, sales and employment.
“Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt-out of Sunday working, but many will want to take the opportunity to work extra or different hours. I want employers to work with their staff so that we can all make the most of the Olympics.
“I want to make it clear that this is a temporary measure and not a test case for a permanent relaxation of the rules in the future.”
The Government will also publish guidance on the implications of the Bill for employers and employees on the BIS website later today.
The decision to suspend Sunday trading laws have been opposed by small shops, the Usdaw shopworkers’ union and religious groups.