Boxing Day is no longer a holiday for retail

High shot of an open shopping mall

Boxing Day is the best day to snap up some ridiculously good deals even though we’ve already spent most of our income on Christmas gifts. Now, retailers across the state have the option of opening their doors on December 26 after Parliament made amendments to the Retail Trading Act.

The amendment comes after two years of temporary exemptions which saw retailers opening their doors on Boxing Day only if they had employees freely electing themselves to work.

The Retail Trading Amendment (Boxing Day) Bill 2017 was carried in by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on September 12 and was successfully passed through the Legislative Assembly and Council by Wednesday September 20.

The change states that owners of retail stores can trade on Boxing Day if they wish to, however workers have the choice of providing their labour on the public holiday.

Labor has expressed dissent and Liberal members have crossed the floor to side with the Opposition party’s belief that the amendment will cause employers to coerce workers into work on Boxing Day, despite hefty penalties for employers who do this.

Christian Democrats have also argued against the amendment, claiming it may lead to “erosion of quality family time” over the Christmas period. Yet, Perrottet ensures that the change has been made to put the choices of families, workers and retailers first. Member of the Christian Democrats Fred Nile has surprisingly provided support for the government because of the amendment’s promise to implement large fines and protect the retail holiday on Christmas Day.

According to the Boxing Day Exemption to retail on public holidays, owners could cop a $11,000 fine if they are found to have coerced employees to work by threatening, intimidating or through harassment. The NSW government states that any worker who exercises their right to not attend work on Boxing Day and resultantly experiences adverse consequences can lodge a claim under the Fair Work Act.

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