Commerce sector achieves big win in Poland

Monday 27 November 2017

On November 24th, the Polish Parliament passed a law limiting work in the commerce sector on Sundays. From 1st March 2018, workers will only be allowed to work in shops on the first and last Sunday of the month. In 2019, shops will only be open on the last Sunday of each month, and in 2020 all commerce workers will enjoy all Sundays free from work.

The Bill was brought to the Parliament last year by the Public Committee on the Sunday Commerce Limitation Act. Trade union solidarity with commerce workers played a leading role as Alfred Bujara – President of the Secretariat of Banks, Commerce and Insurance of the Trade Union NSZZ “Solidarność” – sits on the Committee, and more than half million Polish citizens pledged their support for the Bill.

The law establishes additional seven commercial Sundays during the year. Stores will be open on Sundays in December before Christmas and on last Sundays in January, April, June and August, during seasonal sales.

Simultaneously, the Act introduces numerous exceptions to the introduced limitations. On Sundays bakeries, petrol stations or shops at the railway stations and airports will still be open. However, some restrictions will be introduced to prevent the creation of supermarkets at petrol stations or to create new stores at railway stations. In addition, if shop owners work in their own shop then this shop will be permitted to operate in a housing estates on Sundays.

UNI Europa, the European trade union federation representing the commerce sector and part of the Sunday Alliance, a European Interest group on work/life balance, sees this development as a great success.

Not working on a Sunday would mean a better work/life balance for workers who would have more time to spend with their families and engage in activities, which would also have the add-on benefit of fostering social cohesion with a synchronised day off. The wellbeing and health of workers would therefore greatly improve.

Despite this success, work now needs to be done to create the same regulations for the e-commerce sector to create a level playing field and avoid unfair competition, and achieve the same victory across the retail commerce sector.