Sunday shopping has been in place in Fredericton since 2005.  Last night city council passed a bylaw to allow store owners to decide when they will open and close on Sunday except for Easter Sunday. Under the previous by-law, retail stores were limited to being open between noon and 5 p.m. a restriction that remains in Saint John and Miramichi. Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview all previously repealed their Sunday shopping restrictions and Bathurst gave retailers the flexibility to decide their Sunday hours in May of this year.

This change came as a result of the efforts of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) in both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to change rules restricting retail business hours on Sundays earlier this year. On Prince Edward Island, opening on Sundays is provincially regulated while in New Brunswick, Sunday shopping is controlled by municipalities. In Nova Scotia, the province allowed retailers to decide their own Sunday hours in 2006.  To date, there has been no change on Prince Edward Island.

What this means if you are a retailer in New Brunswick

This is an opportune time to remind retail employers in New Brunswick that while the hours of operation for Sunday are now more flexible, any employee can still refuse to work on Sunday under section 17.1 (2) of the New  Brunswick Employment Standards Act. To refuse to work Sundays, the employee must give 14 days’ verbal or written notice.  By giving this notice, they can signal their refusal to work a specific Sunday or specific Sundays, or all Sundays.  You can ask employees to commit to being available “any day of the week” or schedule them for Sundays, but if an employee decides that he or she does not want to work Sundays, that employee, with the proper notice, is entitled to refuse.