Parliament Extends List of Holidays with Sales Ban to 15.5 Days

(Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, March 28 (TASR) – Shops in Slovakia are set to be closed on several public holidays in addition to the current three-and-a-half days, as Parliament on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Labour Code due to enter into force as of May Day.

At the moment there are three full free days for retail staff (Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday) plus Christmas Eve as of noon.

Apart from these days, the new list drawn up by a group of MPs from the governing coalition also includes Epiphany (January 6), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Victory over Fascism Day (May 8), the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (July 5), Slovak National Uprising/SNP Day (August 29), Constitution Day (September 1), the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15), All Saints Day (November 1), the Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy (November 17) and Boxing Day (December 26).

The original draft submitted to Parliament by the Cabinet stipulated the sales ban on Easter Monday only until 2 p.m. Nonetheless, the House approved an amending proposal presented by Smer-SD MP Lubos Blaha to extend the shops’ closure to the entire day.

Meanwhile, another amending proposal, presented by MP Marian Kery (Smer-SD), introduced an exemption for the sale of flowers on the day marking the end of WWII, as well as Constitution Day and All Saints Day, while for the latter there will also apply an exemption on the sale of items for adorning graves.

The sales ban on 15.5 days of public holidays each year won’t have any economic impact on employers and retailers, co-governing Smer-SD MP Jan Podmanicky stated at a press conference after the bill was approved.

“The proposal, which is the result of a consensus, respected all comments by employers and retailers. It won’t have any negative economic impact on employers, retailers and employees. Trade unions and employers’ associations concurred on this,” said Podmanicky, adding that consumers will deal with the situation by making some reserves in advance before public holidays.

At the same time he doesn’t believe that the bill will affect temporary workers, such as students. “There’s a trend involving a lack of staff in this sector. Temporary student work is pretty flexible; they can work in other services. We assume that a large part of temporary workers from retail will look for jobs elsewhere,” said Podmanicky.

With regard to speculations on expanding the sales ban to further days, such as Sundays, Podmanicky said that such proposals need to be based on consensus.

“We can consider further changes in the future. Each such proposal must be adopted following a certain consensus. The application practice will show how the changes will have taken effect,” said Podmanicky.

Apart from the three governing parties (Smer-SD, Slovak National Party/SNS and Most-Hid), the bill was also supported by most of Igor Matovic’s OLaNO-NOVA MPs, Boris Kollar’s We Are Family, and the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS). The legislation was criticised only by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party.