Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced yesterday the ruling coalition is working on changes to the Trade Law. Among other things, the law regulates allowed working hours. Plenkovic stated they are considering limiting work on Sundays for the retail sector. Apparently, the idea is to allow the retail sector to work a maximum of 16 Sundays a year. This is taking into account the tourism season months. Retail stores would close for the other Sundays of the year.
Working on Sundays is a long-time hot button issue for Croatian politics and business. The idea behind the regulation is simple. If you ban stores from being open, retail companies will give their workers time off to enjoy Sundays with their families. The Catholic Church is a big proponent of this regulation. In fact, Index.hr reports the initiative for the change in the law might have been a part of the promise made to the Croatian Bishops’ Conference (HBK) by the ruling coalition. Church has been vocal in asking for public support in this initiative for the past several years. The same article by Index.hr reveals the justification for the law proposal stems from supposed research by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. After several inquiries into the matter, the ministry finally admitted they don’t have any such research documented.
Does the Croatian Economy Need more Restrictions?
It seems like a far-fetched concept in today’s world, banning companies from working. While some might argue retail sector sometimes overworks and underpays its employees, it seems like the solution to that problem should be better controlled over the worker’s rights and fair business practices. Many Croatians are in favour of the proposed change in the law. This is a fact that no one should dismiss. Still, regulation disabling companies from working for a part of the year seems like a relic of times long past. The mere fact the PM has stated they would allow 16 working Sundays to accommodate for the tourism season is worrying. It screams of a concept of tourism Croatia is supposedly trying to get away from. 16 weeks of tourism per year sounds like a counterproductive move in a country struggling to shed the image of a seasonal destination.
We will know soon enough is this new concept of Trade Law will be proposed and accepted. For now, it remains as a controversial concept for an economy yet to feel the full effects of the lockdown-related drop in business figures.
For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.