Minister for workplace relations and safety Michael Woodhouse says the bill is pragmatic and well balanced, as it opens up the choice to local communities while protecting employees.
“All shop employees will now have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday without being required to give a reason,” Woodhouse says. “They will also be able to take a personal grievance if they are treated adversely or compelled to work on Easter Sunday.”
“This acknowledges the significance of Easter Sunday for many people, and that some employees may want to spend the day with their families instead of working.”
Retail NZ general manager of public affairs Greg Harford says the organisation supports giving businesses a choice on whether to open their store or not.
“Overall, while we think a consistent national approach would have been better, we think the passage of the bill is positive for retail overall,” Harford says.
“If councils decide to adopt a shop trading hours policy, retail businesses will have the flexibility to decide whether or not to open on Easter Sunday, and employees will be able to choose whether or not they work. There are safeguards in the legislation to protect both employees and businesses, and attention will now be turning to local councils as they consider the issue ahead of Easter 2017.”
There were also vocal opponents to the Bill’s passing, with First Union declaring it “The Government giving working people the middle finger”.
“The Government is promising working people in retail the right to refuse work on Easter Sunday, but it’s a hollow promise,” First Union general secretary Robert Reid says.
“We know from years and years of experience that there are consequences for saying no, like a boss reducing a person’s hours.”
Reid said there would be further inconsistencies as local authorities would all apply different policies around the country.
Under the new law, local councils can now:
- Determine whether to allow shop trading on Easter Sunday
- Determine whether to allow shop trading on Easter Sunday across their entire district or in certain limited areas.
However, they must consult their communities using the special consultative procedure on any local policy that would allow shop trading on Easter Sunday.
They also have to review the first local policy created for Easter Sunday shop trading no later than five years after its adoption.
Shop employees also now have the right to refuse work on Easter Sunday without providing a reason, and there won’t be any repercussions for their relationship with their employer.
Further information about the Bill is available on the MBIE’s website.