The National Retail Association has succeeded in its application for a one-off exemption for major stores in regional Queensland to trade on the Boxing Day public holiday this year.
In a judgement released today, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission ordered that stores may trade between 8am and 5pm on the official boxing day holiday.
With Christmas Day falling on a Sunday in 2016, consumers in regional areas of the state had faced the prospect of a three-day closure, as Tuesday the 27th of December is an official public holiday.
The NRA argued that shoppers, businesses and employees would all be worse off as a result of the unusual forced closure, and that the Commission should allow residents of regional areas the same access to Boxing Day sales and post-Christmas shopping opportunities as people in other areas of the state enjoy.
It his decision, Commissioner Neate considered the opportunity for additional employment (at higher rates of pay) for casual and part-time employees, and shoppers’ desire to access a range of retail services on the public holiday. The judgement said:
The statistical evidence of trading activities on 28 December 2015 clearly demonstrates that customers have an interest in, and utilise, the additional opening hours for general shopping and to access post-Christmas sales, redeem gift cards and exchange some Christmas gifts. In other words, although their grocery needs might be met at exempt stores on 27 December 2016, customers have expressed a desire to be able to shop at non-exempt stores for a wide range of products on the day after Boxing Day.
In a separate case, the NRA also appeared in the Commission this week to argue in favour of midnight trading in 10 major shopping centres in south east Queensland in the five nights leading up to Christmas Eve.
In an innovative approach, the Commission identified that the issue of voluntary work for existing employees was the only major area of opposition to the application. So the Full Bench of the Commission adjourned the hearing, and instead asked the NRA to work with the union to craft a set of words that could be included in a judgement to ensure that existing workers could not be forced to work in the extended hours. The NRA and the union submitted an agreed set of words to the Commission late yesterday, and we are hopeful that this application will now also be granted with that safeguard in place for employees. We will let you know as soon as a decision is reached on this matter.
To read the full application click here.