A move to ensure a proper break for retail workers on New Year’s Day has received the backing of South Scotland MSP Martin Whitfield.

Under the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007, the Scottish Government has the power to make an order by statutory instrument to close large shops on New Year’s Day.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has called on Ministers to apply the relevant section of the Act for the last 14 years and has welcomed the Government’s decision to consult on the matter now.

Mr Whitfield has responded to the government’s consultation to back the union’s call for large retailers to be closed this New Year’s Day.

Speaking about his support, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“New Year’s Day in Scotland is a special day, but this is not the case for far too many retail workers who often face having to work. This comes after the incredibly busy and stressful festive period, with many workers only able to take a day or two off during the holidays. 

“An additional day off will give retail workers in Scotland the opportunity to have a little extra rest and time with their families. It would also recognise the fact that many retail workers face significant difficulties in being able to work on New Year’s Day due to a lack of public transport and childcare provision. 

“On the back of a very difficult period for the whole nation, now is the perfect time to enact this legislation and help give Scottish retail workers a decent break over New Year.”

Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland, Tracy Gilbert, said:

“As key workers, shopworkers have worked long hours in difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic, faced unprecedented levels of abuse and worried about catching the virus. However, this is not just a campaign for the pandemic, our members have for many years demanded a proper break after the extremely busy and stressful shopping period in the runup to Christmas.”

“After a 14-year delay this consultation is a step forward in our campaign to get a proper break for shopworkers over the festive period.”