Easter Sunday Trading Policy - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Easter Sunday trading changing?

In 2016, the Government changed the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 to enable local councils to have a policy to permit shops to open on Easter Sunday.

What changes are proposed?

At the moment, retailers are not allowed to open on Easter Sunday and risk large fines if they do. The Council is considering allowing retailers to trade on Easter Sunday throughout the city.

Does the council have to seek community views before making a decision?

Yes. Before adopting a policy there must be a consultation period of one month to allow the community to give feedback to the proposal.

If the policy is adopted, does this mean I have to open on Easter Sunday?

No, this policy would not compel businesses to open. Retailers would be able to choose whether to open on Easter Sunday.

Would this policy change restrictions on the sale and supply of alcohol on Easter Sunday?

No. Any policy adopted by the Council does not supersede the requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

If I am an employee and my employer wants to open on Easter Sunday, do I have to work?

No. The Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 allows shop employees to refuse to work on Easter Sunday without penalty. Employees do not have to provide a reason, but this decision must be in writing to the employer and must be within 14 days after receiving the notice about working on Easter from the employer.

If I am an employer and want an employee to work on Easter Sunday, what do I have to do?

Employers must give employees written notice before the relevant Easter Sunday if they want them to work and to let them know they have the right to refuse to work by written response within 14 days.

If an employee started work more than four weeks before the relevant Easter Sunday, the written notice needs to be given to them between 4-8 weeks before that Easter Sunday. These employees who do not wish to work must respond in writing within 14 days of receiving the notice.

If an employee started work four weeks or less before the relevant Easter Sunday, the written notice needs to be given to them as soon as reasonably practical. The employee then needs to advise their employer, in writing, of their decision not to work as soon as reasonably practical after receiving the employer’s notice.

How do the employer and employee requirements apply during Porirua City Council’s draft policy consultation period in March 2017?

Easter Sunday in 2017 is on 16 April. The Council’s consultation and decision-making on the draft policy is planned to be completed in early April 2017.

This means that employers thinking about opening will need to start talking to their employees about the prospect of working, and their right not to, during the consultation period - before a final decision is made by the Council. That way if a decision is made to allow Easter Sunday trading to go ahead the statutory requirements will have been met.

What is happening in other parts of New Zealand?

There is a range of approaches around the country to local Easter Sunday trading policies. Some councils already have policies in place and others are in the process of consulting and deliberating. Other councils have either decided not to have a policy or will make a decision in the future.

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