Easter trading law change will 'cause confusion'

  • 23/10/2015

Retailers say allowing councils to decide whether shops are allowed to open on Easter Sunday will lead to a patchwork of confusing rules around the country.

The Government yesterday introduced a Bill giving councils authority over Easter Sunday trading, saying there was a demand for it and current legislation was out of date.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse says the situation is unfair at present because some businesses and regions are allowed to trade while others can't.

Retail NZ says the Government is passing the buck to councils.

"Giving 67 councils the power to make 67 by-laws about Easter Trading will see a patchwork of confusing and inconsistent rules being applied when a national approach would provide certainty for everybody," said Retail NZ's public affairs manager Greg Harford.

"Retailers want the choice to open their doors at times when their customers want to shop."

Mr Woodhouse announced the proposed change in August.

Councils and the tourism industry welcomed it but unions voiced concerns.

The Bill says workers will be able to refuse to work on Easter Sunday without having to provide a reason to their employer, in line with Mr Woodhouse's initial announcement.

Unions have questioned that provision.

"Power relations in a workplace make it impossible for a worker to refuse to work Easter Sunday," First Union secretary Maxine Gay said when Mr Woodhouse first announced his intention to change the law.

The change will come into effect in 2017.

The Bill changes Easter Sunday trading only.

Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day shopping restrictions will remain.