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Sunday Work: Can You Opt Out?

Sunday working is standard procedure for most betting shops and retail staff. But, it is important to understand your rights and the rules for working on Sundays.

A DAY OF REST? Whether you must work on a Sunday, or prefer opting out, depends on your employment contract.

There are special Sunday working rules for shop workers and those who are working in betting sites.

Can you opt out of working on Sundays? You may have to work if it gets mentioned in either:

1. Your contract of employment.

2. The Written statement of employment terms and conditions.

Note: As a rule, employers cannot force anyone to work on Sundays unless all parties agree to it. To do so, you must have it in writing. In some cases that may mean changing an employment contract.

Sunday Working for Shop and Betting Workers

Certain situations of the Sunday working rules mean some staff do not need to work on Sundays. It applies most to workers in shops and the people working in the betting industry. As a rule you will be exempt if:

  • You are a shop worker who started before the 26th of August 1994 and still with the same employer. The date for this rule in Northern Ireland is before the 4th of December 1997.
  • You are a betting shop worker who started before the 2nd of January 1995 and still with the same employer. The date for this rule in Northern Ireland is before the 26th of February 2004.

Sunday Work Key Points

  1. Employers do not need to pay their staff a higher pay rate for working on Sundays unless it says so in the contract. This area has no statutory rights in the United Kingdom. But, most employers will pay at least time-and-a-half or offer extra time off in lieu.
  2. Employers must inform staff about their Sunday working rights when they first start to work for them.

Opt Out of Sunday Working

All shop and betting shop workers have the right to opt out of Sunday working. The exception could be if the role of their employment was to work on Sundays only.

An employee can choose to opt out of working on a Sunday at any time. This option applies even if they already agreed to work on Sundays as stated in their contract.

The employee must provide at least 3 months’ notice to their employer before opting out. They must also continue working on Sundays during the 3 month notice period. That is assuming their employer asks them to.

If employers want their staff to work on Sundays they must inform them in writing that they can choose to opt out. They must give this information within 2 months of them starting work. Failure to do so means staff need to give only one (1) month notice to opt out.

Note: Choosing not to work on Sundays does not affect your rights of employment. Your employer cannot treat you ‘unfavourably‘ or dismiss you ‘fairly‘ for opting out.

Sunday Working in Northern Ireland

Employers in Northern Ireland must follow similar Sunday working rules. They must give retail and betting shop staff written information how to opt out. The Labour Relations Agency offers free employment advice for residents of Northern Ireland.

Labour Relations Agency
Telephone: 028 9032 1442
Monday to Friday: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Working Sunday Christian Guidelines

No one should feel discriminated against because of their beliefs or their religion. Practicing Christians often have strong feelings about working on ‘the day of rest‘. Likewise, people should not discriminate others who have no belief or religion.

If it is important to practice your religion on Sundays you should explain this to your employer. As a rule, they will try to accommodate these types of requests by changing shift patterns.

Sunday Working Rules and Opting Out Arrangements for the United Kingdom