Will there be more shopping Sundays? The fate of the parliamentary project hangs in the balance

Luc Williams

Proposed changes to the Sunday Trading Act

Draft amendment to the Act on restricting trade on Sundays and holidays and on certain other days, which also includes changes to the Labor Code, was prepared by the MPs of Poland 2050. It provides for the introduction of two commercial Sundays a month – the first and third – as well as the extension of employee rights for working on Sundays.

The Act gradually introducing the Sunday trading ban entered into force on March 1, 2018. From 2020, the trading ban does not apply on seven Sundays a year: the last Sundays of January, April, June and August, as well as on the Sunday before Easter and on two subsequent Sundays. preceding Christmas.

PSL support for the draft amendment

The draft changes to the act are supported by PSL. MP Marek Sawicki, asked by PAP about the proposed changes, emphasized that he supports any project “that restores any reality.” “If we are dealing with fiction – and I know many stores and chains that today had reading rooms, now have gyms and still trade on Sundays – then let's civilize it. Let's have two shopping Sundays a month, provided that the employees who will be employed will be employed voluntarily, there will be a 200% wage and a day off on Sunday,” the politician emphasized.

According to Urszula Pasławska (PSL), some “hybrid” solution in this matter is certainly possible to discuss. The MP pointed out that the situation related to shopping Sundays differs in small towns and villages from the situation in large agglomerations. “But I think it is worth introducing legal regulations here to liberalize this law,” Pasławska noted.

Civic Coalition for further work

KO club spokeswoman Dorota Łoboda announced that her club would be in favor of referring the project to the committee and further work on it. She recalled that the abolition of the Sunday trading ban was included in the “100 specifics for 100 days of government” of the Civic Coalition.

According to Mariusz Witczak (KO) any draft regulations aimed at freeing trade on Sundays is worth attention. He added that the details of these solutions will still be discussed.

In Witczak's opinion, the ideal solution would be the complete restoration of trade on Sundays, along with providing employees with double pay for working Sundays and the possibility of taking off one day a week. In his opinion, there should also be a limitation that an employee can work a maximum of two Sundays a month.

The position of the Left

Secretary of the Left Club, Minister of Science Dariusz Wieczorek emphasized in an interview with PAP that Left MPs are not obliged to support the draft changes to trade restrictions, because it is not a government proposal – the bill was prepared by the Polish 2050 club. “Therefore, it is not included in the coalition agreement, according to which each of the groups has the right to present their projects and then you need to look for 231 votes in the Sejm for this project to gain a majority,” Wieczorek noted.

The minister recalled that in its program, the Left, even before the 2023 parliamentary elections, proposed introducing a 2.5-times higher remuneration for work on Sundays, holidays and public holidays. “We will look for a compromise, perhaps we need to discuss what to change in this project, because politics is a game of compromises,” Wieczorek pointed out.

Criticism of the current regulations by the Confederation

Przemysław Wipler from Konfederacja declared in an interview with PAP that he is open to discussions about restoring some commercial Sundays. “The current act is absurd and contains several dozen exceptions, as a result of which two large international chains – CVC, the owner of the Żabka chain and Eurocash, the owner of thousands of stores in Poland – are gradually taking over small, small trade in the country. And they are the main winners of the current act” – said the MP.

He announced that he would be against the motion to reject the draft amendment at first reading if it appears in the debate. “We are open to discussing the details of regulations in this area,” Wipler noted.

When asked about the possibility of returning all commercial Sundays a month, Wipler said that there is an ongoing discussion on this subject in the Confederation. “We are having a discussion between the libertarian part of Sławomir Mentzen, which is generally yes, and the national-conservative part of Krzysztof Bosak, which is generally no,” he said.

Wipler is a member of the New Hope party, whose president is Sławomir Mentzen. MP Michał Wawer, vice-president of Krzysztof Bosak's National Movement, emphasized in an interview with PAP that “everyone in the Confederation has the right to judge and vote on this matter according to their conscience.”

“My personal opinion is that Sundays should be free so that everyone can spend this time with their family. Only the most necessary, most strategic sectors of the economy should function. And I think this is the position that he shares most Poles,” said MP Wawer. According to him, the Confederation “does not have a uniform line or discipline on this matter.”

PiS is definitely against it

Radosław Fogiel (PiS) told PAP that his party is definitely against any changes to the Sunday trading ban. In his opinion, the solutions introduced are “good, functional and well received by Poles.” “Even trader organizations say publicly that they do not want a return to shopping Sundays,” the PiS MP noted.

According to the PiS politician, the Poland 2050 proposal is “a desperate cry of the extremely liberal wing of the ruling coalition.” “On the one hand, it is an ideological matter. This is a group of MPs who have extremely liberal economic views embedded in them. On the other hand, it is an attempt to reach a small but still niche of voters to ensure some support,” he said.

Current project

According to the authors of the project, the current period of validity of the act on Sunday trading restrictions has shown “that it has not fulfilled some of the objectives for which it was adopted.” “The project is the result of an analysis of the effects of the currently applicable regulations regarding Sunday trading restrictions and research on public support for these regulations,” we read in the justification.

As noted – contrary to the intentions of the 2018 legislator – the solutions did not contribute to supporting small, local stores in their competition with large retail chains. “In the period 2014-2023, the number of retail outlets in Poland decreased by 33.5 thousand, and in 2023 alone 3,000 outlets were closed. Recent years, however, have been a time of prosperity for large retail chains, especially the so-called discount chains – thanks to an aggressive marketing strategy and prices, as well as long opening hours, they managed to convince potential customers to shop there on Fridays and Saturdays,” it was emphasized. “Secondly, Poles' opinion on the Sunday trading ban is divided. A survey conducted in February 2024 shows that 46 percent of respondents support the abolition of the ban, and 44 percent support its maintenance. Therefore, the proposed solution is a compromise – consent to partial Sunday opening of stores along with higher salaries for employees will help reconcile the interests of customers who want to shop and the sector's employees,” it said.

The project authors also emphasize that the possibility of working on Sundays is also used by people who, due to their studies, cannot work on other days of the week, e.g. students who want to at least partially cover the cost of living in an academic city.

It was also noted that there are known cases of circumventing the Sunday trading ban by, for example, organizing libraries, reading clubs or sports equipment rentals in stores. “Article 6(4) is clearly unfair, which allows an entrepreneur who personally conducts sales on Sundays in his commercial outlet to use free assistance from family members. According to the current legal situation, it is therefore illegal to use paid support from a person who voluntarily wants to work in Sunday, but it is legal to use the work of relatives for free,” we read in the justification. (PAP)


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