Sunday working and night working

Sunday working rules


The rules about Sunday working depend on the wording of each worker's employment contract, but special rules apply to shop and betting workers.

Shop workers

Shop workers in Northern Ireland have the right to refuse to work on Sundays, and are protected against dismissal, selection for redundancy or other detrimental treatment, eg refusal of promotion or training, or exclusion from a general pay rise or bonus.

The rules covering Sunday working apply only to employees and not other workers.

Betting shops in Northern Ireland are prohibited from Sunday opening.

Some shop workers are automatically protected from having to work on Sundays. In Northern Ireland these are:

  • shop workers who've been with the same employer since 4 December 1997 or earlier, even if they had previously agreed to a contract requiring them to work on Sunday
  • betting workers who've been with the same employer since 26 February 2004 or earlier, even if they had previously agreed to a contract requiring them to work on Sunday
  • shop workers whose contract of employment doesn't require Sunday working, but whose employer asks them to work on a Sunday

Employees who are automatically protected can give up this right only by giving a written, signed and dated opting-in notice to their employer and then agreeing expressly what Sunday work they are willing to do.

All other shop workers can opt out of Sunday working if they want, giving three months' written notice without reason, known as an opting-out notice. During this notice period the worker will still be obliged to do the Sunday work as per their contract of employment, obtaining the right not to work on Sunday from the end of the three month period.

You may not dismiss or subject to any other detriment your worker during the opt-out notice period.

If you have any shop workers who are, or may be, required to work on Sundays (but not only on Sundays) you must give them a written statement of statutory rights in relation to opting-out of Sunday shop work (DOC, 28K) - this explains their opt-out right. If you fail to do this within two months of the start of their employment as a shop or betting worker, they only need to give one month's notice for opting-out.

Statement of statutory rights in relation to opting-out of Sunday betting work (DOC,12K), which you must issue to your workers if you require or ask them to work on a Sunday.

Shop workers who opt in to Sunday working have the right to change their minds and opt out.

The Sunday working rules apply irrespective of age, hours of work or service length, but they don't apply to anyone employed to work on Sundays only - see seasonal and Sunday trading.

You should note that a shop worker is anyone who is required under their contract of employment to do shop work, which means work in or about a shop ie not necessarily serving customers on a day when the shop is open for the serving of customers.