Recent changes to the Retail Trading Act 2008 permit shops to open on Boxing day, however, the shops may only open if they are staffed by employees who have freely elected to work on the day.
Basically these legislation changes mean that all shops in NSW may trade on Boxing Day, although as a retailer you have the right to choose to open, or not open, on Boxing Day. You cannot coerce, harass, threaten or intimidate employees to work on Boxing Day, nor can a landlord force a retail tenant to open on Boxing Day.
As an employee, you have a right to freely choose to work, or not work, on Boxing Day. Your employer cannot coerce, harass, threaten or intimidate you to work on Boxing Day, and you can say no to working on Boxing Day.
What can happen if these changes are not adhered to?
If an employer coerces an employee to work on Boxing Day, penalties can be applied up to $11,000.00. If a landlord forces a retail tenant to open on Boxing Day, penalties of up to $22,000.00 can be applied.
Under Section 8 of the Retail Trading Act 2008, freely elect to work provisions may not apply to 'small shops' (usually sole businesses of no more than two owners and employing four or less employees). If you are a 'small shop', we recommend you refer to this legislation for a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities.
NSW Industrial Relations is conducting a number of education programs in the lead up to Boxing Day that are aimed at assisting employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities. Some interesting programs and resources include:
- Factsheets, available at the NSW Industrial Relations website
- Webinars, available here
- NSW Industrial Relations - Treasury staff will be visiting retailers in regional areas in coming weeks as a part of the education program
We also encourage you to call the NSW Industrial Relations advice service on 131 628 if you have any further Retail Trading on Boxing Day questions.