Poland’s government will meet with representatives of the retail industry to remind them about compliance with a ban on Sunday trading, amid efforts by some stores to find loopholes allowing them to circumvent the restrictions.
“This day should be spent with family. It is a time for family, for prayer, not for spending time in the store,” Marlena Maląg, the minister for family, work and social policy, told Catholic broadcaster TV Trwam. “This is what we would like to talk about at the roundtable [discussion with retailers].”
Poland’s ban on Sunday trading was introduced in 2018 by the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS)-led government, fulfilling an initiative launched by the Solidarity trade union and supported by the Catholic church.
However, the restrictions contain a number of exceptions, which some retail chains have sought to exploit. Earlier this year, the government closed one such loophole that allowed stores to remain open if they offered postal services.
Polish media report that some retailers – especially in the large franchise chain of Żabka convenience stories – are staying open by, for example using self-service cash registers with an employee officially “only arranging goods on the shelves”.
In recent weeks, Biedronka, one of Poland’s biggest discount chains, was reportedly considering operating on Sundays by offering an in-store reading club or medical facility. Eventually, the firm backed out of the idea, according to Solidarity.
In her remarks this week, Maląg criticised attempts by businesses to circumvent the legislation, saying that they “should aim to fully comply with the Sunday trading ban”.
“Just like the whole thing about the plan to open reading rooms in Biedronkas – here we successfully countered to ensure that this did not happen and, with the involvement of the labour inspectorate, of course, inspections were carried out,” she added.
“We agreed that we would like to sit down for a roundtable. On the one hand the social side, on the other we would like to invite representatives of the industry and talk about the idea of closed shops on Sunday,” she said. The meeting is expected to take place early next year.
Main photo credit: Sławomir Kamiński / Agencja Gazeta