Czech shops to close on all holidays? Ministry seeks extension of retail ban

While large Czech stores must currently only close on some holidays, the Labor Ministry has proposed extending the measure to all holidays. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.04.2024 11:10:00 (updated on 07.04.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has proposed an extension of the current ban on retail sales to encompass all holidays, stirring debates on the freedom of entrepreneurs and labor rights. This stance opposes another proposal from MPs advocating for a complete repeal of the law.

Currently, the law prohibits retail stores larger than 200 square meters in size from operating on roughly half of the Czech Republic's 13 state holidays. Stores may remain open on Good Friday, Labor Day (May 1), Saints Cyril and Methodius Day and Jan Hus Day (July 5-6), Freedom and Democracy Day (Nov. 17), and the second Christmas Day (Dec. 26), and must close at noon on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24).

Advocates for repealing the current retail ban on state holidays argue that the ban infringes on business freedom, citing potential benefits to both entrepreneurs as well as the state budget. MPs Pavel Staněk and Jan Bureš have proposed a complete repeal of the ban, allowing stores to choose whether to remain open on state holidays.

What do you think about Czechia's ban on retail operations on specified holidays?

The current law is good as it is. 18 %
The ban should be extended to all holidays. 18 %
The ban should be repealed, allowing stores to choose whether to close. 64 %
304 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

In contrast, the Labor Ministry emphasizes the need to safeguard employees' time with families, particularly in large stores, which it says often require more strenuous work. It argues for extending the ban to all public holidays, aligning with the goal of promoting work-life balance.

"The motive leading to the adoption of the law on sales time was to enable rest and a better reconciliation of the private and working life of employees, which is a principle respected across the European legal space," writes the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions in defending the current law.

While some institutions support the proposed extension of the retail ban, however, others express concerns. The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade has stated that while the intention to bring balance work and family life was legitimate, the current law has caused confusion among consumers, who may not be aware of store closures on only specific holidays.

The Czech Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, views the law as government overreach, impeding entrepreneurial freedom and disadvantaging large stores against e-commerce competitors. Opposition to the retail ban is diverse, with Czech institutions expressing varied stances, highlighting the complexity of the issue.

The current ban exempts smaller stores, pharmacies, and essential services. While similar bans exist in other European countries, Hungary's repeal of a comparable law in 2016 saw widespread support. As the debate unfolds, MPs weigh economic freedoms against labor rights, seeking a balance that respects both business autonomy and employee well-being. 

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