Poland limits Sunday shopping to benefit family life

AP News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2018 12:15 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's president on Tuesday signed into law a bill that largely limits trade on Sundays, saying it would benefit employees' family life.

The legislation, worked out by the conservative government and the Solidarity trade union, is expected to draw protests from large Western supermarket chains that are the main target of the law. A large part of their profit is earned on weekends, when many consumers do their big weekly shopping trips. Critics say some of the supermarkets make employees work long hours for modest pay.

President Andrzej Duda said that big traders would need to adjust their practices to the new system and asked them for "understanding."

The law allows numerous exemptions, including for small private retailers, bakeries, gas stations, florists, hotel shops and artistic events.

As of March 1, shops and markets will be closed on two Sundays each month. Only one Sunday a month will be open for trading in 2019, and starting in 2020 the legislation applies to all Sundays except before major holidays.

Critics say it will be easy to circumvent the trading ban.

At the signing ceremony, Duda praised the law as giving children a chance to be with parents and giving shop workers some needed time off. He said a worker in his local shop has thanked him for supporting the law.

Duda said he was trying to "restore normalcy" and that the policy would be in line with similar laws in some other European Union countries including Germany and Austria.

"Where there are hired trade employees, Sunday should be a day off to allow them time with their families," he said.