In NSW, a government agency called NSW Industrial Relations regulates the retail trading hours for traders including public holidays. The regulation of trading hours is designed to prevent any unfair advantage by restricting trading hours on certain holidays. It also ensures that employees are given the opportunity to take some time off during these public holidays. Under the Retail Trading Act 2008 certain days which are restricted. This means that unless you are exempt or meet certain criteria, you are not allowed to trade on the following days:

  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
  • ANZAC Day before 1pm
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday

Exemptions to trade on restricted days

An occupier of a shop may request exemption to trade on restricted days by applying to the Director General. The Director General may only approve such applications if it is in the public interest to do so and if there are other exceptional circumstances. The following criteria will be taken into consideration:

  • The nature of the shop and the kind of goods that are sold;
  • If there is a special need for the shop to be kept open for trading on the particular restricted days;
  • If there will be any potential effects of the exemption upon local businesses in the area including tourism;
  • If there will be any effects on the employees who would be required to work on the restricted days.

The following retail traders are exempt from being closed on restricted trading days:

  • Pet shops
  • Nurseries
  • Newsagencies
  • Bazaars
  • Book stores
  • Chemist shops
  • Florists
  • Seafood shops
  • Fruit and vegetable shops
  • Music stores
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Souvenir shops
  • Shops that are near venues used for physical recreation
  • Take-away food and drink stores
  • Tobacconists
  • Vehicle service centres or petrol stations

Exemptions to small shops

Small shops, apart from those listed above, are exempt from the requirements to suspend trading on restricted days. Small shops are identified in the Act as having the following characteristics:

  • The shop should be owned by a maximum of 2 people or one corporation and the owner(s) of the shops benefit from the trading of the business;
  •  The shop should have a maximum for 4 regular employees.

Voluntary employee arrangements

Under the Act, an employee may only work on a restricted day if the employee has agreed to do so. This agreement must have been made without any coercion, harassment, threat or intimidation by the employer. There are penalties in place if an employer forces an employee to work on restricted days. If an employee has been forced under duress to work on a restricted day, the employer may be fined up to $5500.


Employment law is quite an expansive area of law, which is governed by a range of legislation and regulations. When navigating through this area of law as either an employer or employee it may be in your interests to seek legal advice from a professional with experience in this area of law. For more information on employment related matters, please visit the following page:

Lachlan McKnight
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