New legislation hoping to help Polish families to spend more time together and to give shop workers at least one day’s rest has been signed into law by President Duda, and will come into force in March.
The legislation, worked out by the conservative government and the Solidarity trade union, is expected to draw protests from large Western supermarket chains that are the main target of the law. A large part of their profit is earned on weekends.
As of March 1, shops and markets will be closed on two Sundays per month; in 2019 only one Sunday a month will be open for shopping; and starting in 2020, there will be no Sunday shopping, with a few exceptions — including for the weeks leading up to Christmas, and for small independent traders.
Duda praised the law on Tuesday as giving children a chance to be with parents and giving shop workers some needed time off. The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said of the law in 2017: “We don’t want Poles to work the longest hours, we want them to work efficiently for decent pay.
“We want them to have more time for their families, for their loved ones… this is the goal of our development strategy.”
The law was passed by Poland’s Parliament — the Sjem — in November, and the signing by the President represents the final step of the legislation becoming official.
While the move has been criticised as putting jobs at risk, the Polish government made the move to improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens, and the change resembles the first significant pushback against decades of erosion of Sunday as a day of rest.
The policy comes among a package of other conservative-minded initiatives by the Polish government, with changes aimed at society as well as just the economy. One such is the creation of a new Institute of Urban Planning and Architecture inspired by the British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.
Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki said of the move: “We need to pass on to our children and grandchildren a Poland that is well-kept and arranged in an aesthetic fashion… we must not neglect the science of beauty… Nothing is more important to me than rebuilding what we have lost as a result of partitioning, wars and Communism.
“We now have a unique opportunity in our hands and we must not waste it.”