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Scrutiny question Sunday trading proposals’ impact on families

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THE impact of the proposed relaxation of Jersey’s Sunday trading laws on families and children has not been considered as part of plans due to be debated in September, it has emerged.

Senator Lyndon Farnham

But ministers have said that the issue could be reviewed in due course and pointed out that workers were already receiving improved employee rights under laws that were being introduced in the States, as well as the fact that most stores could already open on Sundays.

Last week, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham announced that plans would be put before the States this autumn to allow stores with more than 700sq m of floor space to open between 10am and 4pm on Sundays.

During a quarterly hearing with the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, Senator Kristina Moore asked the minister whether the impact on families, in particular children, due to staff having to work on Sundays had been considered as part of the proposals.

Senator Farnham said that the key driver of the plans had been giving ‘consumers more choice’ and that recent and impending States laws were seeing better protection developing for workers.

‘We are trying to give consumers more choice. We are trying to provide more things to do over the weekend – not just for Islanders, but for holidaymakers too,’ he said.

‘In addition to that, we have a seen a significant improvement in protection of the employee through employment legislation and we have family-friendly legislation on the way and I think that is going to evolve in the years ahead.

‘We haven’t actually said how does this impact on children. We are still in the new world of how we protect children, but I think it is going to take time for us to start putting these issues at the heart of policy.’

He added that he was ‘confident’ that Islanders would benefit from the relaxation of Sunday trading laws on the whole.

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Senator Farnham’s assistant minister, Senator Steve Pallett, added: ‘The vast majority of shops can open now and most choose not to. It’s a small number of shops that are over 700sq m.

‘I have spoken to one or two of them and in terms of putting pressure on staff to work at the weekend, the feedback from one particular store is that they are prepared to work weekends because they value the time that they can take off in the week so they can be with their families.

‘I think we need to review it, maybe after a year, to see what effect it is having on family life.’

The hearing of the Economic and International Affairs Panel was also attended by chairman Deputy Kirsten Morel and members Deputies Robert Johnson and Jess Perchard.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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