Why do some countries forbid working on Sunday rather than strictly regulating it?

  • According to this source, Poland will gradually forbid commerce on Sundays:

    Poland’s ruling party approved a law that will gradually impose a ban on Sunday shopping, meeting the demand of its conservative Catholic supporters with a measure that risks undermining economic growth and hitting corporate profits and real-estate investors.

    According to this article, EU regulations deal more with ensuring weekly rest periods rather than ensuring a free Sunday:

    There are no specific EU regulations regarding weekend work. The 1993 Working Time Directive determined that the minimum weekly rest period ‘shall, in principle, include Sunday’. In 1996, however, the European Court of Justice annulled this provision by ruling that:

    the Council has failed to explain why Sunday, as a weekly rest day, is more closely connected with the health and safety of workers than any other day of the week.

    The 2003 Working Time Directive does not refer to any specific day in relation to weekly rest periods or any other aspect of working time. Article 2 of the European Social Charter says that Member States should agree:

    to ensure a weekly rest period which shall, as far as possible, coincide with the day recognised by tradition or custom in the country or region concerned as a day of rest.

    From the economic point of view, this seems to have a negative effect upon tourism and those who can mostly work during the week-ends (e.g. students).

    Question: Why do some countries forbid working on Sunday rather than strictly regulating it?

    By strict regulation I am thinking about something resembling my own country's regulation, that can be summed up very roughly as:

    • normal working schedule is 40h/week
    • extended (on request by worker or company) working schedule can be up to 48h/week
    • working on any week-end day is paid (almost) double (or a free day + normal payment)
    • working on any public holiday is paid double and an extra free day

    So, working on Sundays is not forbidden, but companies cannot abuse it due to higher costs associated with it.

    This law can be seen from two points of view: (1) forbidding working on Sundays and/or (2) forbidding shopping on Sundays. I think it's more about (2) than (1). For the record, I live in Poland but do not support ruling party.

    Isn't the question answered in that first quote? It's what was demanded by "conservative Catholic supporters". Religious appeasment, IOW.

    @jamesqf - Yes, that is the simple answer, but I am looking for answers providing more context, so that things make more sense. `RoyalCanadianBandit`'s provided a good answer that explains that this law is a consequence of a political campaign promise and it is actually related to older laws against Sunday trading. On several occasions I found out that a pretty naive questions may lead to very interesting answers.

    I feel the **question is unclear**. Where's the line between "strictly regulating" and "forbidding"? The question does not make this clear. Point in case, Germany has been mentioned as a strict "free Sunday" example. But gas stations are open, bakeries offer (limited) service, restaurants are open, many other services are provided. What is *regulated* is that supermarkets and stores may not open on Sundays (with a few exceptions per year allowed). That is basically what the Bloomberg quote states: Not that work will be "forbidden" on Sundays, but that Sunday *shopping* is becoming *regulated*.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

  • The requirement for rest on Sunday is religious in nature, and is not directly related to ensuring sufficient rest time for all workers. Specifically, most denominations of Christianity designate Sunday as a day of rest and prayer.

    The Law and Justice Party won elections in Poland in 2015. It has campaigned heavily on its support for traditional Roman Catholic rules of behaviour, and as such it has proposed strict laws against doing business on Sunday.

    Although laws against Sunday trading are now uncommon in Western countries, they used to be much more widespread. For example in the UK, most shops were not permitted to open on Sunday until 1994.

    Without discussing Law and Justice party's motivations, I usually hear a non-religious reason for limiting work in Sunday; since it is the most common day for people to have the day off, often it is the only day family members can gather together, making it desirable to allow as many workers as possible to enjoy it.

    @SJuan76 That's a legitimate concern and has become common as a way to defend the rule while trying to deny there is anything religious about it. The problem is that it does not explain why Sunday specifically and is usually not very accurate historically. For example, even France introduced the Sunday rule deliberately to appease the catholic church after a series of conflicts.

    I always wondered why the mostly catholic Poland has less strict Sunday shopping hours than the mixed catholic/protestant/atheistic Germany. It looks like they are catching up.

    @SJuan76 Certainly in the Netherlands – where I'm most familiar with the politics – religious reasons are typically cited as the primary reason, and other arguments tend to be secondary. This doesn't mean they're bad/invalid arguments, or that there aren't more secular people who use these arguments as a primary reason, just that in general the religious argument is the most common/important in discourse about this topic.

    @PaŭloEbermann Non-Catholic Christians are no less religious or zealous than Catholics

    @Relaxed: "The problem is that it does not explain why Sunday specifically" - well, once Sunday has limited commerce in a given place (out of religious reasons), it is certainly easier to keep Sunday the "free" day than declare any other day the "family meetup day". (Saying this as an opponent of giving Sunday such a special status.)

    You could add that working on Sundays is already regulated, not unlike OP's country, and sales ban is imposed on top of that.

    Even now large shops are only allowed to open for 6 hours on a Sunday in the UK.

    Western Europe are very secular countries, nevertheless opening shops on Sundays is an absolute no-go, even on Saturdays they are opened much shorter. Not religious at all.

    It can positively benefit society for peace and quiet one day a week and does not impact revenue for business https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen_County,_New_Jersey#Blue_laws

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM