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Shops may be closed on public holidays

People working in retail should have 15.5 days off if the bill is passed.

Illustrative stock photo(Source: SME)

Slovaks may find shops closed on all public holidays if parliament adopts the recent proposal of Smer MPs, increasing the annual mandatory amount of free days for people working in retail from the current 3.5 to 15.5.

At the moment there are three full free days for retail staff: Christmas Day (December 25), New Year’s Day (January 1) and Easter Sunday, plus Christmas Eve (December 24) as of noon.

“We’re expanding this by another 12 days,” said Ján Podmanický, who presented the proposal with his party colleague Marián Kéry, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “This concerns all state and public holidays."

The legislation will not concern ordinary Sundays, the self-employed, petrol stations or hotels, Podmanický added.

The MPs plan to submit the proposal to parliament in February, and they plan to make it effective as of May 1.

This move would shift Slovakia closer to standards in civilised countries, said Podmanický.

“The time has come to be forthcoming to hundreds of thousands of men and women working in retail,” the MP added, as quoted by TASR. “They deserve to be able to spend more time with their families.”

There have been several attempts to expand the number of days off for people working in retail, presented by both the coalition and opposition, but all of them failed, the Sme daily reported.

Smer will also need the support of its coalition partners to pass the change. While the Slovak National Party (SNS) will probably have no problem to do so, Most-Híd is not so certain. The party claims that restrictions to work on public holidays should be subject to public discussion. The party has failed to specify which possibility would suit them best, Sme wrote.

Tripartite agrees

The representatives of the government, trade unions and employers meanwhile discussed the change on January 9.

“The proposal concerns a large number of people,” said Labour Minister Ján Richter (Smer), as quoted by TASR. “The debate was factual, with the submitters accepting some comments.”

Luboš Sirota of the National Union of Employers (RÚZ) said there are various opinions on how many days off for retail there should be.

“This is what the debate is about, and it’s necessary to look for a compromise,” Sirota said, as quoted by TASR.

The time still is not ripe for discussing closing shops on ordinary Sundays, however, he added.

The Federation of Employers’ Associations (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 Karlubík, as quoted by TASR.

The Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) has also welcomed the initiative, saying it has been its “long-term ambition to push through this legislative amendment."

"It will create more scope for employees to spend time with their families,” said KOZ vice-president Monika Uhlerová, as quoted by TASR. “Most employees [in retail] are women, so this amendment brings us closer to the idea of a balanced private life.”

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