Previous Section Home Page

Schedule 2

Provisions Supplementary to Schedule 1

Amendments made : No. 55, in page 5, line 40, leave out "local authority" and "shop" have' and insert "shop" has'.

No. 57, in page 7, line 16, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 9 and insert--


Column 377

9.--(1) A person of the Jewish religion who is the occupier of a large shop may give to the local authority for the area in which the shop is situated a notice signed by him stating

(a) that he is a person of the Jewish religion, and

(b) that he intends to keep the shop closed for the serving of customers on the Jewish Sabbath.

(2) For the purposes of this paragraph, a shop occupied by a partnership or company shall be taken to be occupied by a person of the Jewish religion if, and only if, the majority of the partners or of the directors, as the case may be, are persons of that religion. (3) A notice under sub-paragraph (1) above shall be accompanied by a certificate signed by an authorised person that the person giving the notice is a person of the Jewish religion.

(4) Where the occupier of the shop is a partnership or company (a) any notice under sub-paragraph (1) above shall be given by the majority of the partners or directors and, if not given by all of them, shall specify the names of the other partners or directors, and

(b) a certificate under sub-paragraph (3) above is required in relation to each of the persons by whom such a notice is given. (5) Every local authority shall keep a register containing particulars of the name (if any) and address of every shop in respect of which a notice under sub-paragraph (1) above has effect. (6) Any register kept under this paragraph

(a) shall be open to inspection by members of the public at all reasonable times, and

(b) may be kept by means of a computer.

(7) If there is any change

(a) in the occupation of a shop in respect of which a notice under sub- paragraph (1) above has effect, or

(b) in any partnership or among the directors of any company by which such a shop is occupied,

the notice shall be taken to be cancelled at the end of the period of 14 days beginning with the day on which the change occurred, unless during that period, or within such further time as may be allowed by the local authority, a fresh notice is given under sub-paragraph (1) above in respect of the shop.

(8) Where a fresh notice is given under sub-paragraph (1) above by reason of a change of the kind mentioned in sub-paragraph (7) above, the local authority may dispense with the certificate required by sub-paragraph (3) above in the case of any person in respect of whom such a certificate has been provided in connection with a former notice in respect of that shop or any other shop in the area of the local authority.

(9) A notice given under sub-paragraph (1) above in respect of any shop shall be cancelled on application in that behalf being made to the local authority by the occupier of the shop.

(10) A person who, in a notice or certificate given for the purposes of this paragraph, makes a statement which is false in a material respect and which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

(11) Where a person is convicted of an offence under sub-paragraph (10) above, the local authority may cancel any notice under sub-paragraph (1) above to which the offence relates.

(12) In this paragraph

"authorised person", in relation to a notice under sub-paragraph (1) above, means

(a) the Minister of the synagogue of which the person giving the notice is a member,

(b) the secretary of that synagogue, or

(c) any other person nominated for the purposes of this paragraph by the President of the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews (otherwise known as the Board of Deputies of British Jews), "large shop" has the same meaning as in Schedule 1 to this Act, and

"secretary of a synagogue" has the same meaning as in Part IV of the Marriage Act 1949.'.

No. 58, in page 9, line 11, leave out from concerned' to end of line 33.

No. 59, in page 9, line 37, leave out from second be' to includes' in line 41 and insert


Column 378

a shop in respect of which a notice has been given under sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 9 above by the person who was then registered as the occupier of the shop ; and the provisions of that paragraph in relation to the cancellation of such a notice shall have effect accordingly.

(2) In paragraph 9(8) above, the reference to a certificate provided in connection with a former notice'.--[ Mr. Peter Lloyd. ]

Schedule 3

Rights of shopworkers as respects Sunday trading

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I beg to move amendment No. 35, in page 12, line 19, after Sunday' insert

(whether or not as a result of previously giving an opting-in notice)'.

Madam Speaker : With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments : Government amendment No. 22.

No. 15, in page 13, line 18, leave out from means' to end of line 19 and insert--

for shopworkers working in shops in respect of which a notice under paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 has taken effect and has not ceased to have effect the period of one month beginning with the day on which the opting- out notice concerned was given and for all other shopworkers the period of three months beginning with the day on which the opting-out notice was given'.

No. 18, in line 19, at end insert--

Limitation on Working Hours on Sunday

6A. No shopworker shall be employed on Sunday for more than eight hours and any provision in any shopworker's contract of employment or in any agreement which requires, or may have the effect of requiring, that worker to be so employed for more than eight hours is unenforceable to the extent that it so requires or may so require.'. No. 19, in page 14, line 16, at end insert--

Right to enhanced pay for Sunday work

9A. A shopworker shall be entitled to remuneration from his employer in respect of shop work undertaken on a Sunday at a rate of pay which exceeds that which he earns in the case of shop work undertaken by him for that employer during his normal working hours on a weekday or in the case of a shopworker required to work only on a Sunday, at a rate of pay which exceeds that earned by a shopworker carrying out similar shop work for that employer during his normal working hours on a weekday.'.

No. 61, in line 16, at end insert--

9A.(1) A shopworker working in a large shop on a Sunday shall be remunerated at twice the hourly rate applicable on a weekday to that job.

(2) A shopworker working in any shop other than a large shop on a Sunday shall be remunerated at one and a half times the hourly rate applicable on a weekday to that job.

(3) A complaint by a shopworker that he has not been remunerated as required by sub-paragraph (1) or (2) above may be presented to an industrial tribunal.

(4) An industrial tribunal shall not entertain a complaint under sub- paragraph (3) above unless it is presented to the tribunal before the end of the period of three months beginning with the date on which there occurred the action complained of, or where that action is part of a series of similar actions, the last of those actions, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable in a case where it is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the complaint to be presented within the period of three months. (5) Where on a complaint under sub- paragraph (3) above an industrial tribunal finds that the employer has failed to pay a shopworker the whole or part of the amount thereby required to be paid, the tribunal shall order the employer to pay the employee the amount which it finds due to him.

(6) Compensation payable under sub-paragraph (3) above shall not exceed the limit for the time being imposed by section 75 of the 1978 Act.

(7) In this paragraph, "large shop" has the same meaning in relation to a shop in this Schedule as it has in relation to a shop in Schedule 1.'.


Column 379

Government amendment No. 23, and amendment No. 21, in page 16, line 33, at end insert--

14A The extent of any failure by an employer to remunerate a shopworker as required under paragraph 9A above shall be regarded as a deduction made by the employer from the wages of that shopworker and the relevant provisions of Part I of the Wages Act 1986 shall accordingly apply in respect of that failure.'.

Mr. Lloyd : The amendment fulfils another commitment that I made in Committee. It makes explicit on the face of the Bill that the right to opt out of Sunday working subject to three months' notice is a continuing one. It removes any room for doubt that workers who opt into Sunday working retain the right to opt out subsequently if they wish to do so. The only limitation to that right will be the requirement to give employers three months' notice. Workers may opt in and out again on future occasions if they are so minded. I hope that the House will support the amendments.

I also undertook to introduce amendments that specify how shopworkers will be informed of their statutory rights under the Bill. Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 do that by requiring employers to provide all new shopworkers and existing shopworkers opting in with a form describing their right to opt out at three months notice and advising them how they can appeal to a tribunal if they are dismissed for doing so or are treated detrimentally for that reason. The employer must provide each worker involved with the explanatory statement within two months. If he or she does not, the period of notice that the employee may give if he or she wishes to opt out drops to one month. I hope that those amendments will meet with the approval of the House.

Earlier in the debate, reference was made to the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill and the power contained in it to repeal protection in a schedule-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Pike rose--[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker : Order. A Minister at the Dispatch Box is trying to explain the amendments and the House should come to order.

Mr. Pike : That is exactly my point of order, Madam Speaker. Although the Minister has a loud voice, it is extremely difficult to hear what is being said.

Madam Speaker : Absolutely--[ Hon. Members :-- "Hear, hear."] It is all very well hon. Members saying "Hear, hear"--I wish that they would obey my blandishments.

Mr. Lloyd : I was talking about the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill. I promised the House earlier that I would return to that subject and it is now germane to the amendments under discussion. That Bill has only just begun its progress through the House. Primary power to alter by order primary legislation is available in that Bill only to get rid of burdens on business. It cannot be used to get rid of necessary protections. We have included in schedule 3 provisions to protect shopworkers precisely because we consider such protections to be necessary.

The Government and I do not believe that a future Government or Parliament would take a different view--such an idea is far fetched. It is not possible for one Government or Parliament to speak for future ones. If a future Government or Parliament sought to use the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill, once enacted, to


Column 380

dismantle the protections in schedule 3, that could be a matter for the courts. The legitimacy of any order is finally a matter for the courts, not Ministers, to decide. As I am not a court, all that I can tell the House with authority is that the Government regard the protections in schedule 3 as necessary protections which should not be changed by order.

In answer to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), if any order that is introduced under the deregulation Bill is debated, it must be debated in the Chamber under the affirmative procedure. I think that that is an academic point. I commend the amendments to the House.

Ms Ruddock : First, may I respond to the amendments which the Minister moved? As he noted, they respond in part to concerns that we raised in Committee and we are more than willing to support them because they give force to our concerns.

I wish to speak to amendments Nos. 15, 18, 19 and 21. During the last day of our Committee proceedings on the Floor of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) proposed an amendment that sought to reduce the notice period for all shopworkers who opt out of Sunday working from three months to one month. He made the valid point that three months could be too long a period to keep an unhappy worker doing Sunday duties when he or she had chosen to opt out.

In responding, the Minister made much of the fact that, although large stores with significant numbers of employees could be expected to cope with only one month's notice of opting out, small shops, particularly specialist shops, could not. We have taken that point to heart and tabled amendment No. 15 to accommodate it. It seeks to provide that those who work for large shops covered by the Bill's registration provisions should be required to give only one month's notice of opting out and that those who work for small shops and other shops covered by the Bill should give three months' notice, as proposed by the Government.

Since our last debate, further ammunition to support our cause has been provided by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which has struck a voluntary agreement with the Argyll group, Asda, Boots, Dixons, Kingfisher, Sainsbury, Tesco and W. H. Smith to the effect that only one month's notice of opting out will be required by those big companies. That agreement significantly undermines the Government's case and removes most of the objections to which the Minister alluded in his previous contributions. I hope that he will now be minded to reconsider and support our new amendment. At the heart of the debate about Sunday trading has been the acceptance by virtually all hon. Members that Sunday is different from other days of the week. Most hon. Members have expressed some support for trying to preserve something of the special nature of that day. The Government have had to concede the special nature of Sunday by making express provisions in the Bill to limit large shops' trading to six hours and providing for an opting-measure by which employees can refuse to work on Sundays if they object to doing so. If a significant number of people are to work on Sundays, albeit voluntarily, in the retail trade, it therefore follows that the House should consider their pay and conditions. The six-hour trading period for large shops


Column 381

may have created the impression that shopworkers are likely to be at work for only six hours and that the number of hours that they will work will automatically be limited. As we discovered in Committee, that is not so. Large shops covered by the registration scheme will require their workers to be in post for at least six and a half hours and possibly even more because they must set up the tills, fill the shelves and carry out shutting-up procedures at the end of the six-hour trading period.

While that is the case for large shops, the Bill enables small shops to open for unrestricted hours on Sundays. It therefore follows that workers in small shops may be required to work for an unrestricted number of hours. That is inappropriate and at odds with the special nature of Sundays, so we have tabled an amendment to limit the hours of all shopworkers on Sundays to eight hours. That cannot be an inconvenience or be against the financial interests of any shops that trade on Sundays. Eight hours is sufficient for any worker and if small shops open for longer hours they must make appropriate arrangements. If working on Sundays is to be voluntary, people cannot be coerced into working for more than eight hours, whether it is in a small or a large shop.

Shopworkers who work on Sundays must be remunerated in a way that takes into account the special nature of Sunday and the fact that workers have given up potential leisure time to be at work. From our discussions with employers, we have realised that the pool of shopworkers who are willing to work voluntarily on Sundays is drawn from people who find the present premium payments attractive. In Committee, the Government opposed our amendment to provide for double-time payments for Sunday workers-- [Interruption.] All those Conservative Members who have spoken today in support of the special nature of Sunday, and who are commenting from a sedentary position on what I am saying, should be willing to vote for the amendment, which will provide for enhanced payments for those who work on Sundays.

Mr. Lord : The hon. Lady knows full well that that argument will not wash with those Conservative Members who want to keep Sunday special. The only way adequately to protect the workers whom she wants to protect is to keep shops shut.

Ms Ruddock : I could accept the integrity of the hon. Gentleman's argument if he had proposed that all shops should shut on Sundays and I could have supported that proposal. He and other hon. Members have proposed that some shops should open and others close. The very shops that the hon. Member would allow to open on Sundays are the small shops, which pay the lowest wages of all. His amendment and others tabled today, which propose a distinction between small and large shops, would not protect workers but would lose them their jobs in the large stores--the very stores that pay premium wages.

As I was saying before I was interrupted, by rejecting our amendment proposing double-time payments the Government have failed to understand the link between premium pay and the voluntary principle.

Before I came to this debate, I was lobbied by workers from my local Tesco- -other Members may also have been. I asked them why they had come and why they had been


Column 382

working on Sundays. They came to urge me to vote in favour of the Third Reading and they all said that they worked on Sundays for the money [Hon. Members :-- "Hear, hear!"] Conservative Members are agreeing with me, but they should bear in mind the fact that that money is based on a double-time payment on a Sunday. The payment of double-time wages has provided a group of workers who are voluntarily available to work on Sundays.

The payment of premium wages in the larger stores has produced the demand and the basis for enhanced pay for workers in smaller shops. We remain convinced of the justice of making double-time payments to those who work voluntarily on Sundays.

As I said in Committee, double-time payments are a long-established practice, which recognises the contribution of those who work anti-social hours. Despite Government measures, millions of workers who are legally working anti-social hours are receiving double-time payments. They include local authority and hospital workers and, indeed, civil servants.

Notwithstanding our case for double-time payments, we have tabled amendment No. 19 in a spirit of co-operation and in an attempt to meet some of the Minister's earlier criticisms and the reservations of some supporters of the Keep Sunday Special campaign. The amendment calls for enhanced pay for Sunday working, but we would not have been able to table it in the absence of developments outside the House. Those developments are the direct result of our previous debates and the Government's rejection of our earlier amendments.

Two days after the debate on employment protection in a Committee of the whole House, USDAW and the major companies participating in the Shopping Hours Reform Council campaign entered into a voluntary agreement on premium pay. That agreement would not have been reached but for the pressure for double-time payments that was exerted in the House. Before speaking about the agreement, I should like to tell the House about a survey of about 3,000 stores belonging to the SHRC member companies.

Some 51 per cent. of the workers in the survey currently receive double- time pay ; 18 per cent. receive on average 1.9 times the basic pay ; and 27 per cent. receive rates varying between time and a half and 1.9 per cent. It is thus possible to say that 96 per cent. of those surveyed received between time and a half and 2.3 times basic pay. They all receive additional payments for working on Sundays and there can be little doubt that they are willing to work for that reason.

If the arrangements in the Bill to enable voluntary workers to say no to working on Sunday are to have real force, the employers will have to continue to pay premium wages. That is the way to get people to volunteer to work. We are not fooled by commercial interests : we know full well the motivation of the companies involved. They are interested in their market share and in profit margins. Equally, no one can deny that when enhanced pay is on offer workers are willing and anxious to work on Sundays.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Does the hon. Lady appreciate that when the system, if it is approved by the House, is up and running, many workers will be obliged to take Monday off in lieu of Sunday?

Ms Ruddock : The hon. Lady's point is not pertinent to the case that I am making.


Column 383

Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend says that she understands the difficulties faced by workers in well-organised, large capitalist organisations. She spoke about the agreements reached by USDAW and the other unions with the large multiples for Sunday premium payments. Does she agree that those payments depend on trading conditions and that if those conditions worsen the payments will go out of the window?

Ms Ruddock : When I said that I was in no way fooled by the commercial interests and the motivation of companies, I said it advisedly. It is quite clear from all my contacts with companies and those who work voluntarily on Sundays that the workers consider that by working on Sundays they have a stake in those large companies. That is why we shall support the position taken by USDAW. The common practices that have been embodied in the voluntary agreements are important and the House should note them.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), I am concerned that the voluntary agreements should stick and, for that reason, I read them into the record tonight. The Argyll group pays double time ; ASDA pays double time for full-timers and time and a half for part-timers ; Boots pays between time and a half and double time ; Dixons pays between 1.7 and 2.3 time, depending on


Column 384

age and grade ; Kingfisher pays between time and a half and double time, depending on grade ; Sainsbury pays an average of 1.9 time ; Tesco pays double time and W. H. Smith pays an average of time and a half.

I believe that those companies, having made voluntary agreements with workers who work on Sunday, must stick to those agreements. If the Bill becomes law, we shall be watching carefully, as will their representatives in the trade unions, to see that they honour their promises.

Having said that, I come to the Dispatch Box, as I did on previous occasions, to say that voluntary agreements are no substitute for the statutory agreements that we have sought. We are quite clear that, although we appreciate those agreements having been made and believe that they were made as a result of Opposition pressure for better worker conditions on Sundays, we would once again ask the House, and all those Conservative Members who have said that they are concerned about workers' rights, to support the amendments to ensure that the amount of time that people work on Sundays is limited to eight hours, that there is enhanced payment for those workers and that those payments, which are the rationale for their working, are the means by which we can ensure that people who work on Sunday do so voluntarily. I commend the amendments to the House and urge the Minister to reconsider.


Column 385

Mr. Peter Lloyd : This debate follows closely those that we had two weeks ago in Committee. I shall therefore try to be brief, though there are some differences worth remarking.

I am flattered that the hon. Lady was so obviously listening to what I said previously. Amendment No. 15, on the period of notice, seeks to encapsulate in statutory form what she took my meaning to be. She was right up to a point. I certainly did argue that no doubt some larger shops with larger staff could accommodate a shorter period of notice than many smaller shops with fewer staff. I am glad that Opposition Members recognise that there is such a distinction. I feel rather churlish that I cannot accept the revised proposal, much more realistic though itis.

Some large shops would find that one month would cause genuine and unreasonable difficulty, especially those that require skilled and knowledgeable staff, such as garden centres and electrical shops. Many reputable traders, such as John Lewis, Burton, Unwins and Coolings nurseries, have explained that three months--not one month--could present their businesses with substantial problems. They obviously share some of the expectations that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton)--who, sadly, is not in his place--expressed in Committee when he said from his very different perspective :

"There are many valid and important reasons"

for an employee to want to opt out, including joining

"a sports team or a social club, which has its main event on a Sunday."-- [ Official Report, 9 February 1994 ; Vol. 237, c. 329.] People may well want to drop Sunday working for such reasons, but they are considerably less likely to change their job altogether. There are many reasons, as the hon. Member for Mossley Hill explained, why people might want to opt out of Sunday working and we can sympathise with them, but we should also consider the interests of the employer.

The employee is getting a new, long-lasting, special right to opt out. The employer also needs consideration. He has his business to run and he needs sufficient notice from employees opting out to do so properly. The law ought to provide the minimum manageable for reasonably efficient employers, in all their difference sizes, varieties and circumstances. Better placed employers--the hon. Lady mentioned some--will be able to improve on three months. I am glad that many leading members of the SHRC guaranteed less than three months--one month, in many cases. Other employers are not so well placed. I am sure that they will seek to do better, when they can, for valued employees who give good service or in emergencies. In the latter case, I hope that all employers will improve on the one month's notice that the Opposition would write into the Bill. In a real emergency, one month can be far too long. For statutes, I remain convinced that the right length of notice should remain three months. I hope that the House will agree.

10.45 pm

We also gave the content of amendment No. 18 a thorough airing in Committee and I shall not weary the House by rehearsing that debate. I see no virtue in putting a limit on the hours of Sunday shop work when, rightly, it does not apply to weekdays or in other areas of business and commerce. I can imagine some employees working in


Column 386

large shops regretting that opening and earning hours will be as short as they will. Equally, I accept that some employees in small shops would find the eight-hour limit that the hon. Lady proposes longer than they would ideally like.

Whether or not to work on Sunday in a particular job, for a particular length of time, should be the choice of the worker. I see no justification for suddenly obliging a small shop such as a newsagent, which has for years legitimately opened from 8 am until 5 pm on Sunday, to shut at 4 pm to the annoyance of his customers, or to employ another worker for the extra hour. The Opposition have not begun to make their case for amendment No. 18, and I hope that the House will reject it.

When we discussed pay a fortnight ago, the issue was double pay--pure and simple, and a real and full-blooded one. Amendment No. 19 takes the form of an anaemic shadow called enhanced pay. It is not a weighty amendment, because its terms could be met if the employer paid a premium of no more than 1p an hour for Sunday work. Amendment No. 61 is half full-blooded, with double time to be paid by large shops, and time and a half by small shops. I am grateful to the Opposition for half listening to me. Of course it would be easier for profitable large shops to pay higher wages than for many small shops, but that is not an inviolable rule to be written into the statute. Some large shops are not highly profitable. Garden centres, for example, often operate on small margins, while some small shops are extremely profitable.

It is hard on a shop of 3,050 sq ft to have to shut after six hours on Sunday when its rival of only 2,900 sq ft can remain open, and it would be most unfair to add an obligation on the larger shop to pay double time when its competitor can satisfy the law with time and a half. Employers and employees must, in their joint long-term interests, be free to make their own arrangements on wages--taking into account the circumstances of the particular business, requirements for flexibility and different incentives for different parts of the day, different days of the week and different parts of the country.

I am glad that many large profitable shops are committed to paying premium rates, but I cannot advise the House other than to vote against the amendments, which would have the effect of driving some shops out of business or preventing them from opening on Sunday if they wanted to do so. Either way, there would be fewer jobs. Wage-fixing would prove the enemy of employment while reducing the range and quality of retail services available to the public.

Mr. Ray Powell : Rarely can I say that I share the Minister's opinions, particularly in respect of amendment No. 19. There might have been a printing error, because my name is among those associated with that amendment. I would not have supported it, and I share the Minister's view that it gives nothing by way of an enhanced payment to persons working on Sunday.

I am speaking to amendment No. 61 on the basis that it is one of the most important amendments to be considered by the House today. It would introduce a statutory right--I emphasise statutory--for double-time payments for shopworkers employed on Sundays in shops of more than 3,000 sq ft, and a half payment for shopworkers employed in smaller shops. Having laid out the main arguments in


Next Section

  Home Page