The Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012 to become the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Act 2012 (the 2012 Act).
The 2012 Act has been fast tracked through parliament ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (the Games) taking place in London this summer. The 2012 Act suspends the provisions of the Sunday Trading Act 1994 (the 1994 Act) in respect of Sunday Trading hours for the duration of the Games, namely from Sunday 22 July to Sunday 9 September 2012. The suspension applies to shops throughout England and Wales.
In terms of working on a Sunday, under the 1994 Act, employees can opt out of working on a Sunday by giving three months notice. Under the 2012 Act, the normal notice period in respect of opting out of Sunday working has been reduced to just two months if it is given between now and 9 July 2012. This is unless a lesser notice period is stated in the employment contract.
If an employee already has the right not to work on a Sunday, then this right is unaffected by the Act, unless the employee wishes to opt-in to working Sundays under the 2012 Act. For other employees who work Sundays or may be required to work Sundays under their terms of employment, there is the ability to opt-out of the unrestricted working hours under the 2012 Act. It is, however, not possible for someone who only works on a Sunday to opt out of Sunday working under the 2012 Act.
The government have repeatedly stated that the suspension is purely for the duration of the Games and that it is not a trial run for the abolition of Sunday Trading Laws.