Many people gardening. Some simply love flowers and greenery. For others, it is also a question of sustainability. Whatever the motivation, more and more Australians are gardening. Doubtless retailers of garden supplies welcome these developments. Nonetheless, operating a garden supplies shop involves more than foliage. It also involves a myriad of considerations, some commercial and others legal. If you are a garden supplies retailer, this article details the legal considerations pertinent to you and your business.

As a garden supplies retailer, the legal considerations most important for your business include:

  • Retail Trading Hours;
  • Workplace Health & Safety; and
  • Correct Labelling.

Retail Trading Hours

States and territory governments regulate retail trading hours. Although regulation initially began to preserve time for religious observances, in more recent times the law is designed to both assist vulnerable workers and help smaller businesses compete against larger ones.  The question of whether regulation affects your business and the extent of its impact depends on where you trade and the size of your business.

In the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory, retail trading hours are deregulated. However, each state has different regulations governing retail trading hours. For example, in Queensland, retail trading hours are regulated under the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 (Qld). When a store can trade depends on its type of classification. There are three categories of retail outlets:

  • Exempt shops;
  • Independent retail outlets; or
  • Non-exempt

An ‘exempt’ shop has no restrictions on its regular trading hours. The Act lists these stores. While an independent retail store is also not subject to limitations vis-a-vis regular trading, a shop can only be included in this category if it has a certain, limited number of employees. Non-exempt stores typically include larger stores such as supermarkets and department stores. However, all shops potentially face different trading hours on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Under the act, retailers of garden plants and shrubs, seeds, garden and landscaping supplies or equipment in Queensland are considered exempt stores.

As outlined above, the regulatory position in each state is different. You need to check with your appropriate state government authority to find out how the relevant legislation affects you. Once you have this information, you can be sure that you will not inadvertently incur a penalty for opening outside of permissible trading hours.

Workplace Health & Safety

As a retailer of garden and plant products, you must ensure the health and safety of your employees. Every state and territory produce guidelines to enable retailers of garden supplies to meet these obligations.

The kinds of workplace health and safety issues facing garden supplies retailers include exposure to hazardous chemicals (for example, by handling fertilisers), from excessive sun exposure and heat stress and injuries from manual handling and lifting. Workplace injuries are a cost for all businesses as well as a cost for the community and the individual.

These potential hazards mean that you must stay abreast of, and implement, all best practice procedures in the industry. State governments provide freely accessible guidelines online. For example, Victorian Workplace Health & Safety guides nurseries and other members of the garden industry. Their guidelines cover all aspects of operating, including the use of fertilisers, lifting and carrying pot plants and using hand tools. SafeWork NSW provides similar assistance.

Labelling

As a garden supplies retailer, you need to make sure that all of your plant products are correctly labelled. Proper labelling is important from a consumer law perspective. If your products are incorrectly labelled, consumers could become confused, and you may fail to meet your obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) (Cth).

However, proper labelling has other important purposes. It can assist authorities in preventing the cultivation of plants that are harmful to public health and the environment. It may also facilitate interstate trade.

Numerous labelling guidelines are available to assist retailers of garden supplies. For example, the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia has created National Plant Labelling Guidelines. These are freely available online.

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Operating a retail outlet is complex. If you have legal questions unique to your business, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced lawyer. Contact LegalVision’s qualified lawyers to assist you. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Carole Hemingway

Next Steps

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