Croatian Retailers’ Sunday Return Constitutionally Dubious

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Croatian retail will return to normal Sunday hours of operation, although legal questions abound.
Croatian retail will return to normal Sunday hours of operation, although legal questions abound.
May 28, 2020 — Croatia’s retailers will return to normal Sunday operating hours this weekend. But unions claim the sudden return to normal ignores labor laws.

The Croatian Association of Employers is aware the law requires workers to know their schedules a week ahead of time, but the group claims the extraordinary situation voids the rule, according to Jutarnji List.

If they abide by the Labor Act, shops should be closed on Sunday, May 31.
The law, the trade unionists warn, is clear: employers must deliver employees’ schedules at least seven days in advance. Since the Civil Protection Directorate revoked its ban on work on Sundays on May 26, the seven-day deadline is impossible to meet.
“There is simply not enough time to [obey the law],” Zlatica Štulić, president of the Retail Trade Union, told the daily.
Employers claimed otherwise, announcing that most stores will be open on Sunday. 
“The current situation with COVID-19, restrictions and bans on the operation of stores in the last few months and the lack of finances of entrepreneurs is certainly an exceptional situation that requires the involvement of workers,” the employers association said. 
The President of the Management Board of furniture retailer Emmezeta, Slobodan Školnik, said his employees knew about a possible change in schedule, which is enough to work this Sunday. 
The Civil Protection Directorate lifted the ban on work on Sundays, but not on holidays and non-working days: shops still have to be closed, except for bakeries, gas stations and kiosks. 
Đorđe Gardašević from the Department of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb said questions about the constitutionality of the rules are legitimate. He said any measure restricting constitutional freedoms must be reasonably justified.
“I do not mean only the goal to be achieved — here it is health protection — and the proportionality of the restriction, but also a clear and unambiguous explanation from the one who brings the measure that this and so formulated measure is best contributes to the achievement of the set goal,” he said. The lack of a valid explanation leaves doubt on the possible arbitrariness of the measure, and thus on its possible unconstitutionality. 
“When all is said and done, the only reason for making this decision is because they remembered that this Saturday is a holiday, so they were afraid of the election consequences if people could not go shopping all weekend,” he added.


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