Ever Wondered About the Laws on Easter Trading?

With Easter fast approaching, most minds turn to four days holiday and chocolatey treats.  For some though, Easter is just more days working whilst others holiday.

Significant changes to the law around Easter trading came into effect in 2016.  These allowed individual councils to determine whether shops were allowed to open on Easter Sunday within their district, or parts of it.  As a consequence, shops in Carterton and Whangarei, Gisborne and Upper Hutt, and many other parts of New Zealand are free to trade on Easter Sunday.  Conversely, a number of other major councils, including Auckland, have determined that other than those businesses who have historically been allowed to trade, Easter Sunday will remain retail free.

Auckland Council undertook “community engagement” and produced a voluminous report indicating a majority opposition to Sunday trading.  In August 2017, its councillors voted 20 to 1 in favour of retaining the status quo – only businesses then able to trade on Easter Sunday could continue to do so.  This will remain the situation until Council decides to revisit the matter.  Whilst this is likely to happen at some stage in the future, just when will be determined by the makeup of councillors and the general will of Aucklanders. Until then, the only businesses in Auckland which are legally permitted to be open on Easter Sunday are (primarily):

  • Service Stations
  • Dairies
  • Pharmacies
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Takeaway food shops
  • Duty free shops
  • Garden Centres
  • Shops at public transport stations, shows or exhibitions
  • Certain services e.g. hairdressers, video rental (do they still exist?) and real estate agencies
  • Shops in Parnell Road

Employees cannot be compelled to work on Easter Sunday.  If employers intend to open that day, they must give employees written notice of their right not to work.  This advice must be given not more than eight weeks and not less than four weeks prior to Easter Sunday.  If an employee wishes not to work, they must give written notice to their employer within 14 days of the employer’s notice.  The right not to work overrides any employment agreement made between the parties.

Similarly, having the right to open does not compel shop owners to do so, irrespective of any contractual arrangement there might be between the shop owner and its landlord.