Last year, the NSW Parliament passed the Retail Trading Amendment Bill 2015 (NSW) which allows all retailers across NSW to open their doors on Boxing Day.

Previously, retailers were only allowed to trade on Boxing Day if they were an exempt shop or if they were located in the Sydney Trading Precinct, which was limited to the Central Business District and parts of the Eastern Suburbs. The Amendment removed this restriction. The changes apply to Boxing Day 2016 and will be subject to review after this date.

Employers should note The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) states that an employee is generally entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday. An employer may request an employee to work if it is reasonable to do so, but the employee has the right to refuse unless it is unreasonable.

An employee who works on a public holiday is entitled to public holiday provisions (such as penalty rates and minimum engagements) under the applicable award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment.

It is important to note that while an employer can request an employee to work on a public holiday, the Retail Trading Act 2008 (NSW) states that it an offense for a retailer to open on Boxing Day unless all employees have "freely elected to work on that day."

A person must not work because they have coerced, harassed, threatened or intimidated and they must not work merely because they are rostered to work or required to work by the terms of an industrial instrument.

Employers found to be in breach of the provisions in the Retail Trading Act 2008 (NSW) may face penalties of up to $11,000 per employee concerned.

Should you have any questions about your rights and the obligations about retail trading on Boxing Day please contact NSW Industrial Relations on 131 628 or visit their website: