Wages to rise…but Sunday hours could get longer

Shops could be opening longer on Sundays in the future as a result of an announcement in the summer Budget.

Chancellor George Osborne said on 8 July that the government would consult on devolving Sunday trading powers, with a view to giving city mayors and local authorities the power to set Sunday hours in their area.

Bob Crosby, lead organiser of the GMB union, which represents retail workers, said: “If changes are pushed through there need to be legal safeguards to give a genuine choice for people working in retail so that they can plan their work around their family and caring commitments.

“Changes to Sunday trading laws will impact on the supply chain. Behind all shops are workers in the distribution sector. They too will be affected by decision to extend opening hours.”

The Budget also included the introduction of a new national living wage for workers aged 25 and over.

From April 2016, the NLW will be set at £7.20 – 70p higher than the current main rate of the national minimum wage (NMW) rate and 50p above the £6.70 NMW rate taking effect in October 2015. The NLW is expected to reach the government’s target of more than £9 by 2020.

The move came under fire from the Association of Convenience Stores, which represents 33,500 local shops. Its chief executive James Lowman said: “To introduce this measure with no consultation… is a reckless way to impose a massive burden on small businesses.”

Lara Murray, associate solicitor in Palmers’ Employment Law team, said: “These measures are likely to have some significant implications for both employers and employees.

“While the relaxation of Sunday trading laws may be some way off, if and when it does take place, employees may be unsure of their rights in relation to Sunday working or feel pressured into working on a Sunday against their wishes.

“More than 200 employers have also been ‘named and shamed’ over not paying the national minimum wage so it is likely that there will be businesses that also fail to pay the new national living wage.

“Seeking expert advice can help to clarify where you stand on employment issues in situations where it has not been possible to resolve the matter informally with the employer.

“At Palmers, we understand that paying for legal advice may be a concern so we offer cost-effective fixed fee interviews and many people find that legal expenses cover for employment disputes is also included in their household or car insurance policy. For more information, please contact our Employment Law team.”