Tripartite Agrees with Closing Shops on Public Holidays

(Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 9 (TASR) – Shops should be closed on public holidays in Slovakia, thereby increasing the annual amount of free days for people working in retail from the current 3.5 to 15.5, according to a proposal presented by MPs Jan Podmanicky and Marian Kery (both Smer-SD) on Monday.

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.

“We’re expanding this by another 12 days. This concerns all state and public holidays,” said Podmanicky at a press conference, adding that the legislation won’t concern ordinary Sundays and the self-employed, petrol stations and hotels.

The bill should be presented to Parliament in February, and it’s envisaged that it could enter into force as of May Day.

According to Podmanicky, this move would shift Slovakia closer to standards in civilised countries. “The time has come to be forthcoming to hundreds of thousands of men and women working in retail. They deserve to be able to spend more time with their families,” said Podmanicky.

The plan was debated on Monday at a tripartite meeting (Government, trade unions and employers).

“The proposal concerns a large number of people. The debate was factual, with the submitters accepting some comments,” said Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Minister Jan Richter.

“We’re talking about whether there should be 15, 16 or 30 free days, while others believe that there should be eight. This is what the debate is about, and it’s necessary to look for a compromise,” said Lubos Sirota, vice-president of the Republican Union of Employers (RUZ). He added that the time still isn’t ripe for discussing closing shops on ordinary Sundays, however.

The Association of Employers Unions (AZZZ) has also accepted the MPs’ initiative. “We’ve fine-tuned some technical details, such as how this will be carried out with hotels and restaurants,” said AZZZ vice-president Roman Karlubik.

The proposal was welcomed by the Trade Union Confederation (KOZ). “It’s been KOZ’s long-term ambition to push through this legislative amendment. It will create more scope for employees to spend time with their families. Most employees [in retail] are women, so this amendment brings us closer to the idea of a balanced private life,” said KOZ vice-president Monika Uhlerova.