No shopping on Sundays?

A draft bill introducing a ban on trade on Sundays was submitted to the Sejm, the lower chamber of Polish parliament, on Friday. The initiative is strongly supported by labour unions and the Catholic Church.

In Poland stores stay closed on several bank holidays. These include the Independence Day, two days of Christmas, Labour Day, 3rd of May Constitution Day, Corpus Christi, New Year, two days of Easter, All Saint’s Day, Pentecost, Epiphany, and Assumption Day.

Legislative Initiative Committee, a group consisting of labour unions and other workers’ associations, have been gathering signatures from the people supporting the idea of shopping-free Sundays for several months. They obtained more than 500 thousand signatures.

According to the proposal, trade on most Sundays would be prohibited. The bill also limits trade on Christmas Eve and Holy Saturday. On these two days, stores would close on two o’clock p.m. Today they are treated as a regular workday.

However, the changes would not apply to all enterprises and employees. The draft bill names several exemptions from the ban, including petrol stations, flower shops, bakeries and pharmacies. Small outlets located at airports, train stations, or bus stations, on planes or ferries, and Duty-Free Zones would be allowed to trade as well.

Opponents of limiting trading on Sundays warn that the change may have negative impact on the job market and that several thousand workers may be let go as a result.

Proponents of the new regulations say Sundays should be for the family and that the ban will not have impact on the amount of sales as people will simply do more shopping on Fridays and Saturdays.

EU regulations do not normalise the issue of working Sundays. Member states are free to regulate this matter in accordance with their will and customs.

Some European countries, such as Germany and Austria, introduced bans on Sunday shopping, whereas in many others states stores open on Sundays with no limitations whatsoever.

The draft bill was introduced through the so-called popular initiative. If a group of citizens gathers support of 100,000 Polish citizens entitled to vote in general elections, they may introduce their project to be the Sejm.

If the initiative is supported by the MPs, such bill may become law. In order to be passed, a bill needs to go through three readings in the Sejm, then be passed by the Senate, and finally be signed by the President of Poland.