Boxing Day trading will be extended throughout New South Wales despite a review showing less than half of retailers supported it and one in five workers feel coerced to work.
The NSW Government has decided to introduce legislation to allow Boxing Day trading in response to a two-year trial of trading in regional areas, including Newcastle and Wollongong.
The government commissioned an independent review which found Boxing Day trading had the support of 41 per cent of retailers using a survey by JWS Research. Support was higher in regional NSW locations, at 47 per cent.
The review by consultant Professor Percy Allan also found one in five workers felt “coerced” to work on Boxing Day and that real growth in NSW retail sales for December 2015 and 2016 had declined since the two-year trial began.
A union survey of retail workers found two in five employees felt “pressured” to work on Boxing Day despite legal requirements that it be voluntary.
Madeleine Wright, 22, who works in a retail store in Sydney’s inner-west said she was pressured to work on Boxing Day in 2015.
“On Christmas Eve, a manager approached me to work on Boxing Day and I declined the shift because I had family staying from rural NSW and I don’t see them often,” she said. “My manager just kept pressuring me saying the money is really good and kept going till I finally said ‘OK, I’ll work’.”
The manager suggested Ms Wright could work fewer hours on Boxing Day as a compromise, but when the day came she was asked to work even more hours.
“They said the money was really good and I shouldn’t turn it down, but I said the money wasn’t worth it and I had family to see.”
The independent review found half of store owners and managers were not aware that working on Boxing Day is a voluntary act and that coercing someone is an offence.
The review recommended employers be fined $3000 for each employee pressured to work on Boxing Day. Landlords would face a minimum fine of $6000 per tenant forced to open or close on Boxing Day.
The state government has instead decided…