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Prohibition of Sunday-work in the retail sector

On 16 December 2014 the Hungarian Parliament has adopted the Act on the prohibition of Sunday-work in the retails sector (“Sunday Act”), which will enter into force on 15 March 2015.

According to the preamble, the aim of the Act was to protect the most important building stone of the Hungarian society, when it conflicts with the freedom of trade. Though the above interest deserves protection, on the other hand it shall be noted that according to the most recent surveys conducted after the submission of the draft Sunday Act, the Sunday Act will likely result in either redundancies or – to avoid them – in the decrease of the salary of the employees in the retails sector, further, in the declining of the consumption demand, which are serious factors and impacts that should have been considered in advance.

The Act provides for certain expressed exemptions from the general rule, according to which shops cannot be open on Sundays, further, shops in the retails sector can only be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on normal “retail” days. Pharmacies, shops in international airports, railway stations and bus stations, petrol stations, markets, restaurants may be open and cultural and bathing services, etc. may be rendered even on Sundays.

Shops – not falling under the exemptions – may operate four Sundays (from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.) before 24 December and on another Sunday, provided that they have notified the respective commercial authority at least 15 days before the proposed Sunday operation.

Notwithstanding the above rule, bakeries (selling exclusively bakery wares and milk products), may be opened from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on “retail” days and between 5 a.m. and 12 a.m. on Sundays and business holidays. In addition to the above newsstands and florist’s – provided that their income do not exceed the threshold set out in a separate act – may be open from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays and business holidays. Stores in sport centres are also allowed to operate on Sundays and business holidays during the term of the sport events.

The Hungarian Authority for Consumer Protection shall supervise the non-compliance with the Sunday Act. In case of any breach of the provisions of the Sunday Act, the Authority must decide about the temporary closure of the respective store,
for 5-15 days in case of the first breach
for 30 days in case of the second breach
for 90 days in case of the third breach
for 365 days in case of any further breaches.

It shall be noted that after considering the specialties of a city or village or any part thereof (such as tourism, shopping patterns, etc.) a Government Decree may set out rules differing from the provisions of the Sunday Act.

Further limitations to this Act may be regulated in the frame of municipality decrees and the commercial authority may also limit the operation of such stores, shops, etc. that are allowed to operate on Sundays, if it deems important in order to protect the interest and right for rest of the inhabitants living in that location.

As a consequence of the Sunday Act, the Hungarian Labour Code – i.e. the list of those cases when ordinary work may be ordered on Sundays – was also amended. Therefore, Section 101 of the Labour Code was extended to those employees who may be employed on Sundays according to the provisions of the Sunday Act. In this regard, we note that right after the approval of the Sunday Act by the Parliament an amendment proposal was submitted concerning the aforementioned provision of the Labour Code and the provision regarding Sunday work allowances. Therefore, we will provide you with an update in this regard.

Should you have any further questions the lawyers of CLV Labour Law Practice Group are happy to assist:

Dr. Marianna Csabai
Dr. Boglárka Kricskovics-Béli
Dr. Nóra Óváry-Papp

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