NSW retailers given green light to trade on Boxing Day under new legislative reforms

Boxing Day

NSW Parliament has passed legislation giving retailers based outside of Sydney CBD and Bondi the option of trading on all future Boxing Days. 

Introduced by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet earlier this month, in accordance with the findings of an independent review by Professor Percy Allan, the Retail Trading Amendment (Boxing Day) Bill 2017 has amended the Retail Trading Act 2008  to a) allow shops and banks to continue opening on Boxing Day and b) allow banks to open on Bank Holiday and on certain public holidays – if they are staffed by persons who have freely elected to work on those days.

The legislation also provides strict safeguards to protect workers, with retailers who force staff to work on December 26 facing fines of up to $11,000 per employee.

Since Boxing Day 2015, suburban and regional retail shops have been permitted, on a trial basis, to remain open for trade on the condition that staff have freely elected to work.  The two-year trial was set to end on 1 December, but with the passage of the Bill through Parliament, the ability to operate on Boxing Day has become permanent.

The Treasurer said the Government will work with retailers, unions and industry organisations on an information campaign to educate the public that hat no one be forced to work on Boxing Day. He said the Government has also agreed to conduct an inquiry commencing October 2019 to further assess the impact of the reforms.

The National Retail Association (NRA) has welcome the passage of the Bill, describing it as a win for retailers for small and large.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the legislation will create additional jobs and economic activity across the state, rather than restricting the benefits to the Sydney CBD as has been the case in the past.

“We know from our experience elsewhere in the country that Boxing Day is the most popular trading day of the year, but for some reason the vast majority of NSW was forced to close until 2015,” Lamb said.

“Prior to the two-year trial that began in 2015, only a select few retail stores in the Sydney CBD and Bondi were allowed to trade on Boxing Day.

“The legislation safeguards a worker’s right to choose whether or not he or she works, and protects staff from being coerced into working against their will.

“This is a sensible balance between the needs of workers, business owners and shoppers, and the NRA commends the NSW Government on listening to all affected parties and coming up with the right solution.”

The retail worker union Shop, Distributive and Allied Association (SDA) NSW has, along with Unions NSW, objected to the continuation of Boxing Day trading, citing unreasonable pressures on retail workers to work on Boxing Day despite the safeguards in place for workers.