The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the National Labor Inspectorate (PIP) regarding the use by a commercial establishment of an exception to the ban on trading on Sundays. The cassation appeal was filed by the Prosecutor General. “I hope that in the future, entrepreneurs who would like to circumvent the Sunday trading ban will consider this issue in the context of the judgment just passed,” commented Chief Labor Inspector Katarzyna Łażewska-Hrycko.
The act gradually introducing a ban on Sunday trading entered into force on March 1, 2018. The regulations provide for a catalog of 32 exemptions. Based on the exemption provided for in Art. 6 section 1 point 10 of the above Act, the prohibition does not apply, among others, to: in commercial establishments and in plants conducting activities in the field of culture, sports, education, tourism and recreation.
Supreme Court on exception to the ban on trading on Sundays and holidays
On Wednesday, September 13 this year. Supreme Court resolved the cassation appeal filed by the Prosecutor General at the request of the Chief Labor Inspector – to the detriment of the accused in the case of the judgment of the District Court in Tarnów of December 30, 2022. The point was to take advantage of the above exception to the ban.
“This case concerned the use by a commercial establishment of the exception referred to in Article 6(1)(10) of the Act on Restriction of Trade on Sundays and Holidays and on Certain Other Days by placing shelves in stores – mainly dealing in the sale of alcohol – where sports equipment offered for rent to store customers is displayed,” explained PIP.
The Supreme Court recognized the validity of the cassation appeal. “In the oral reasons for the judgment, the Supreme Court shared the position of the National Labor Inspectorate and the Prosecutor General as to the way of understanding the above-mentioned provision,” we read in the PIP press release.
As explained, in accordance with the interpretation adopted by both bodies and shared by the Supreme Court, “the possibility of using the exception referred to in Article 6(1)(10) of the Act on Restriction of Trade on Sundays and holidays and on certain other days, does not occur in a situation where a sports and recreational equipment rental, book rental, etc. is organized on the premises of a commercial establishment.
“I am satisfied with the Supreme Court’s ruling. From the very beginning, PIP has been of the opinion that the interpretation adopted by labor inspectors and our office is correct,” commented Katarzyna Łażewska-Hrycko, Chief Labor Inspector, quoted in the release. “I also hope that in the future, entrepreneurs who would like to circumvent the Sunday trading ban will consider this issue in the context of the judgment just passed,” added Łażewska-Hrycko.
For entrusting – contrary to the trade ban – the performance of trade work or activities related to trade to an employee or employee, a fine ranging from PLN 1,000 to PLN 100,000 may be imposed. Persistent violations of the regulations may result in restriction of liberty.
Circumventing the Sunday trading ban
This week, the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Marlena Maląg, in response to a parliamentary interpellation, informed about a “significant increase” in the scale of violations of the ban on entrusting employees or employees with work in trade or performing activities related to trade on Sundays, holidays, and on the Saturday before Easter. or on Christmas Eve. The head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy drew attention to the growing number of violations in larger commercial establishments.
“This is primarily due to the change in exemptions from the trade ban invoked by stores (mainly using the possibilities provided by Article 6(1)(10) of the Trade Restriction Act)” – said Minister Maląg.
The head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy pointed out that “the way in which the provisions of the mentioned act are formulated, which raise many interpretation doubts” encourages entrepreneurs to refuse to accept fines imposed in the form of penalty notices, which makes it necessary to refer cases to court proceedings.
Marlena Maląg pointed out that “in five cases resolved with final judgments of acquittal (and issued in a situation where the entrepreneur invoked the exception referred to in Article 6(1)(10) of the above-mentioned Act), the Chief Labor Inspector applied to the Prosecutor General for filing a cassation appeal. As the minister explained, in cases of petty offenses, cassation may be filed by the Prosecutor General or by the Prosecutor General Ombudsman.
“In three cases, the prosecutor general shared the inspection’s position and filed this extraordinary appeal. Two applications are still under consideration,” said the head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
According to Maląga, “the Supreme Court’s resolution of the cassation appeals filed by the Prosecutor General will allow for the determination of the correct interpretation of Article 6(1)(10) of the Trade Restriction Act.”
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