From now on, French DIY stores can open on Sunday, just like the garden centres. The exception to the rule lasts until 1 July 2015, when “a comprehensive, stable piece of legislation” should start regulating Sunday openings in France.
"Temporary" deviation for DIY
For years, Castorama, Leroy Merlin and other Bricoramas had to accept how garden centres were allowed to open on Sunday, while they were not – despite an increasing similarity between both sectors. The temporary deviation, a decree from the Ayrault government on the last day of 2013, should alleviate these issues.
"This is a big relief for all the employees in our sector, who have been fighting for a year”, stated Gérald Fillon, spokesperson for the DIY-sector. However, the struggle is not over, according to him: “This is a new phase in our struggle. We are no longer hitting the streets, but we will be making regular visits to the halls of parliament.”
Sunday will remain day of rest
In fact, the battle is not over by far: “This deviation is a temporary measure, while we wait for a complete revision of the law that tackles exceptions to the Sunday rest. The general rule has to be that Sunday is a day of rest”, as the Ministers of Trade vociferously stated.
All parties will convene on 9 January to see which compensations will be given to those who work on Sunday. The government has already made several suggestions: nobody can be forced to work on Sunday and who does has to “get at least double wages”.
These talks will be quite difficult as the two most militant labour unions (CGT and Force Ouvrière) have already opposed the temporary deviation, fearing it “will lead to the abolishment of the Sunday rest”.
12 Sunday openings for everyone?
The new decree results in an elimination of the current right for garden centres and furniture chains to open on Sunday, as detailed in the Bailly report, named after the former CEO of the French postal services. He was tasked by the government to unlock this very difficult issue.
Because all permanent and temporary exceptions have been scrapped, Bailly suggests that all merchant have the right to have up to 12 Sunday openings per year, regardless of their location and sector. That would basically mean they could have one Sunday opening per month.
Previously, only 5 Sunday openings were allowed and that was not a right, but a “favour” granted by local authorities. By 1 July 2015 we will know whether this proposal will become reality.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)