Retailers call for unified trading hours after Woolworths accused of Anzac Day breach

Source: AAP/Dan Peled

Retailers are calling on the states and territories to come up with unified trading hours for public holidays after Woolworths was accused of breaching complicated Anzac Day trading restrictions in New South Wales.

Most businesses in NSW are not allowed to open on Anzac Day before 1pm.

However, small businesses, including newsagencies and petrol stations, are exempt from these rules.

The state government has generally turned a blind eye to retailers having workers on site to prepare for the 1pm opening, but this year the government told larger retailers, including the big supermarkets, they could not have employees come into stores before 1pm to prepare certain items such as roast chicken.

Woolworths appears to have gotten around this rule by having store managers who are on a salary elect to come to work and prepare stores earlier than 1pm. According to reports, employees in some Woolworths stores were preparing fresh produce from around 10am yesterday.

Woolies rival Coles claims this is not on and says Woolworths could face fines of $11,000 per store, according to Fairfax.

However, a spokesperson for Woolworths told SmartCompany the supermarket giant did not break any trading rules.

“Clear direction was given to stores that volunteer, salaried managers were allowed to enter and undertake certain limited preparations for opening at 1pm,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“This is in line with the NSW regulations. We were keen to ensure our customers’ shopping experience … [yesterday], as on all days, met their expectations.”

Retailers want simpler rules across the board 

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, told SmartCompany yesterday was a headache for many businesses thanks to complex opening hours that differ from state to state.

“It depended on what size retailer you were,” Zimmerman says.

“There were that many rules around it [opening], that it does make it complicated. This needs tightening up to make sure retailers know what the rules are so they don’t inadvertently flout the law.”

Zimmerman says it’s additionally complicated for retailers with a national reach, because they have to juggle rules in different states, some of which may differ depending on the size of the store and whether it is located in a CBD or suburban area.

“Consumers want retailers to be open, otherwise they wouldn’t open on Anzac Day,” he says.

“But on the other side, we have to respect our servicemen and servicewomen.”

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Grant Green
Grant Green
4 years ago

Why are trading hours such an issue? Why not go Free market and allow all retailers to open any hours they like as long as they pay the penalty rates to employees?

Alex
Alex
4 years ago
Reply to  Grant Green

It’s not trading hours, it’s about respecting ANZAC Day

Grant Green
Grant Green
4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I don’t see how allowing people to work is disrespectful, but drinking and gambling in pubs and clubs is.

Phil Crichton
Phil Crichton
4 years ago

You should live in Warwick,Stanthorpe or Dalby Qld. Due to the stupid, outdated laws here, only IGA is allowed to open on Sundays and public holidays; and IGA is as dear as poison.

MP
MP
4 years ago

How about we go back to Mon – Sat (1/2day) trading and get back to family lives 🙂
We use to survive perfect in this world and Sunday being closed, we spent with family rather than half family having to work.
So many small shops struggle to compete with the big guys because they have to open 7 days and their costs are much higher as well.
Go back to basics….
Remember 7-Eleven was only open between 7-11pm – everything else was closed.

Justin Tyme
Justin Tyme
4 years ago

What incredible inward looking “I’m the most important person on the planet so adopt my opinion” type of system. Typical unionised socialist thinking. Force everyone to comply and then Unions, opps! ALP rule.

Shane M Grimstone
Shane M Grimstone
4 years ago

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, told us we want, need, must have longer trading hours! This has been the ARA’s song forever and a day. Really? nobody asks us the consumer about opening hours. Maybe we want some time out from shopping, could help the nation to save money instead of running up big credit cards bills.

Christy
Christy
4 years ago

This is a stupid question. If the Store Managers who were “volunteering” their time were paid a set salary regardless of how many hours or when hours worked are, then were they really “volunteers” – i.e. unpaid for this time? If they’re not volunteers, then surely this was a breach of the rule?

If they were really volunteers, what happens if one of them was injured onsite? No Workers Compensation? Doesn’t the Supermarket chain then open themselves up to larger payouts, not restricted by Workers Compensation laws?