Really, in my view, these need scrapping.
Regardless of religious aspects, it makes a lot of sense for people to have a regular break from work, such as weekends, etc. It makes sense to have employment laws that means not forcing people to work non stop in terms of times of day or days in a row. I understand that commercial interests could win out and start employing people silly hours if allowed, and sadly people that want the money would do that. What is sad is that a self employed person does that anyway in many cases even now. So these laws do not work anyway!
What I don't get is the special Sunday trading laws. Disallowing large stores from opening more than just 6 continuous hours on a Sunday, e.g. 10am to 4pm.
Why large shops only?
I assume this was done so as to not penalise the small shops, but that actually makes no sense from an employment law point of view. A lot of small shops have very few employees, maybe even only one, and so they end up working all hours - the classic "open all hours" TV show is an example. Surely they are exactly the sort of case for not being able to force people to work all hours or all days?
Big shops are in a much better position to have people on shifts and rotas so that everyone gets a couple of days off every week, but overall someone is covering all the time and maybe even people are paid extra for weekend working if they want it.
So it makes no sense to have different rules for large or small shops from an employee exploitation point of view, and obviously makes absolutely no sense from any sort of religious point of view.
I assumed it was religious, but we know more than half the UK is not religious at all, and the other half (ish) is a mix of religions. Not doing work on a Sunday applies to some specific religions only, and even then some of those see the "sabbath" as Friday just before sunset to Saturday around sunset (when you can see three stars in the sky) and not in fact "Sunday" at all. Bear in mind the days of the weeks are all named after much older gods than these religions. There is no real reason to work with one specific religion here. Indeed, other laws would prohibit doings do if this was not actually a law!
So why not allow each shop, and perhaps for each employee, the observance of their individual religion and the periods they consider they should not work? Or better still not have this crap at all!
It does not work well!
Today I expected (and was not disappointed) Tesco to be packed. We had something to do first then go to Tesco, but the laser engraver was not configured as I expected (my fault) so we went to Tesco early, just before 9am, on the off chance that Christmas Eve was "different".
They officially open 10am to 4pm, the maximum 6 hours allowed. But they open doors 30 minutes before and the Costa in store is allowed to sell coffee at that time, so people "browse" before they can buy. We drink coffee before we buy. Simples.
This time, Christmas Eve, they opened 9am, but did not tell the Costa staff. We got a trolley of shopping, and waited for 9:25 when they served us coffee, then the scan&shop opened so we scanned the shopping, and at 10am we went through till, and by 10:03 we were leaving a car park that was totally full! It is amazing how much extra traffic there is for a shop that is closed for a single day!
Staff were there well before 9am, working, and will be there well after 4pm I am sure.
The staff are doing as much work as if they started at 9am, surely? The first hour is probably hectic with all the people with full trollies queued at the till waiting for Sunday Trading to allow them to start. All Sunday trading laws does it make them work harder!
So who does this Sunday trading law actually help - not staff - not shoppers - so who?
Clearly, browsing is allowed. Indeed, some time ago the scan&shop things did not start until 10am, but I bet they got loads of complaints as people filling baskets without them got to do so, but not those using the self scan stuff. They changed, and they are now available early, just the check out is not open until 10am.
What next? Getting a quote for your basket. That is not "trading" so that should be allowed.
What about providing card details in advance, ready for when the sale can complete? Surely that has to be allowed?
What of the shop doing an authorisation check on the card - not actually concluding the sale, just checking you have enough money for when they do open? That can't be "trading" surely?
What of lending you the basket of shopping for approval. Not sold you you yet - that will happen at 10am. Surely lending stuff is not trading?
At what point does it become the case you can shop as normal, pre 10am, but at 10am you get emailed a confirmation of your sale that happened at 10am using the card you provided and authorised in advance when you left the store at 9:10am.
At that point, can we please scrap these crazy laws.
But do keep some protection for employees anyway...