Statewide go ahead.

The NSW Parliament has passed legislation to permanently give retailers, employees and consumers the freedom to trade, work and shop on Boxing Day. The decision to expand Boxing Day trading was passed in the NSW Upper House with the support of Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile.

The legislation follows a two-year trial and a comprehensive review, which found clear support for unrestricted Boxing Day trade. The legislation also provides strict safeguards to protect workers, with retailers who force staff to work on December 26 facing fines of up to $11,000 per employee.

NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet said the reform was about providing retailers, retail employees and consumers with more choice. Prior to the trial, thousands of shops across NSW were required to close on Boxing Day while those in Sydney’s CBD, were free to open, he said. “If people want to trade, work or shop on Boxing Day, it makes sense that they can choose to do so irrespective of their location, keeping retail dollars in their local communities.”

NSW has now joined Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, the Northern Territory and South-East Queensland with the option to trade on December 26.

The minister said the government’s priority now is to educate the public that no one is forced to work on Boxing Day, and retailers who do so may be subject to heavy penalties. “To ensure retailers and their employees are fully aware of their rights, the government will work with retailers, unions and industry organisations to develop a comprehensive information campaign ahead of Boxing Day this year,” he said. The government will conduct an inquiry, commencing October 2019, to further assess the impact of the reforms.

National Retail Association (NRA) chief executive, Dominique Lamb said the new trading laws would create additional jobs and economic activity across the state, rather than restricting the benefits to a few retailers as has been the case in the past.

“We know from our experience elsewhere in the country that Boxing Day is the most popular trading day of the year, but for some reason the vast majority of NSW was forced to close until 2015,” she said.  “With the success of the trial trading hours for the last two Boxing Days, it was inevitable that consumers and business owners would want to see that made into a permanent fixture.”

Lamb said the NRA was confident that retail staff would be properly compensated for working on Boxing Day, with penalty rates pushing their pay to 250% of the normal rate.  “The legislation safeguards a worker’s right to choose whether to work, and protects staff from being coerced into working against their will,” she said.