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The Government has lost a vote in the House of Commons to devolve Sunday trading Regulations to councils.
Local authorities and city mayors in England and Wales were to be given the power to extend Sunday trading hours, allowing them to choose areas where shops could stay open for longer.
Sunday trading laws
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, "protected" shop workers have the right not to work on Sundays. Those who are not protected, or who have forfeited their protected status, have the right to opt out of working on Sundays by giving their employer three months' notice in writing.
However, MPs yesterday opposed the changes by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Conservatives rebelled and the Scottish Nationalist Party voted against the changes. Its MPs sought to protect pay premiums held by workers in Scotland, where there are no trading restrictions.
In England and Wales, large shops – those that are more than 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) – are permitted to trade on Sundays for a period of six hours, between 10am and 6pm. Small shops can open all day.
Under government proposals, shop workers in England, Wales and Scotland would have also be given “greater freedoms” in relation to Sunday working.
They would have been able to opt out by giving one month’s notice to their employer, rather than the three months’ notice currently required.