Warsaw, 19th February 2019
Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers on Sunday trade in Europe:
Polish regulations extremely restrictive
Free trade on Sunday rather than any restrictions is the standard in Europe, and Polish regulations in this area, in the target shape, are extremely restrictive – these are the most rudimentary conclusions from the report by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers on trade on Sundays in Europe.
The postulates of limiting trade on Sundays are in Poland nothing new under the sun. This topic would come back every now and then to the public debate over the last several years, but it did not materialise in the form of specific provisions until November 2017, when the law on limiting trade on Sunday was passed.
“From the very beginning, the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers was critical about the draft law limiting trade on Sunday,” says Marcin Nowacki, vice-president of the Union. “We pointed out that such a sectoral form of regulation would in no way serve the majority of employees. We also emphasised that it certainly would not help small shop owners, but rather the opposite, meaning it would lead to a wave of bankruptcies. Today we see that we were right.”
Regardless of the views on the regulations in force since March 2018, it should be noted that the supporters of these restrictions often refer in their argumentation to examples of other countries in the European Union where allegedly analogous provisions apply. Meanwhile, the Polish legislator, limiting trade on Sunday, decided to take a course directly opposite to European trends.
“One must stress the fact that most European Union member states do not restrict trade on Sundays in any way,” said Katarzyna Włodarczyk-Niemyjska, director of the Law and Legislation Department of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “Those countries that had decided to introduce such restrictions, did so a long time ago, in completely different socio-economic conditions and generally are now withdrawing from this solution and liberalising the law. In turn, Hungary, which decided to undertake such an experiment relatively recently, immediately, because after only one year of the new regulations being in force, returned to free Sunday trade.”
At the same time, the Union’s experts point out that the minority of countries – that decided to limit trade on Sundays – introduced a variety of solutions. The almost total ban, which is to be in force in Poland from 2020 on, is a negative phenomenon on a European scale. It turns out that the legal landscape in the area of limiting trade on Sundays is much more complex than the simple dichotomy: “total ban” or “total freedom”.
“In the case of countries that restrict trade on Sunday, the standard from which basically only Poland breaks out is to use a variety of mechanisms mitigating the negative effects of such regulations,” says Jakub Bińkowski, secretary at the Department of Law and Legislation of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “Amongst these solutions, one can name, for instance, particular zones where trade on Sunday is allowed, the transfer of certain competences in this regard to local governments or extensive subjective exclusions relating, for example, to the store’s area.”
Spanish solutions constitute a series of interesting examples implemented to mitigate the risk arising from restricting trade on Sundays, as they combine all of the above-mentioned mechanisms. The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers consistently postulates the withdrawal from the Sunday trading ban and replacing it with a Labour Code guarantee of two free Sundays a month for all full-time employees. This way, all sectors of the economy will be able to function normally on all days, while achieving the basic goal of the act on restricting trade on Sunday.