Earlier this year, two Member's Bills addressing Easter trading were drawn from the ballot: Jacqui Dean's Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendment Bill and Steve Chadwick's Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Easter Trading) Amendment Bill. The former would have added Wanaka and Tauranga to the list of districts allowed to trade over Easter, while the latter would allow communities to decide for themselves, but only addressed Easter Sunday. A second difference was that Chadwick's bill contained protections for workers similar to those in the original Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990, while Dean's bill would have left workers significantly worse off than before (see the respective "In the ballot" posts here and here).
Both bills passed their first reading with significant majorities and were forwarded to the Commerce Committee. The committee considered the bills in tandem, and has now reported them back [PDF], recommending that both be passed. However, they've made some changes. Both bills now have extremely robust worker protection clauses ensuring that workers cannot be forced to work over Easter, or discriminated against if they refuse. The scope of Dean's bill has also been extended to include every local authority in the country; it is expected that those that want to will opt out, with an amendment passed during the bill's Committee Stage. Unfortunately, under Standing Order 288, the committee was unable to take the obvious step of merging the bills, or incorporating the clearly superior local consultation provisions from Chadwick's bill into Dean's - so now we have the worst of both worlds: a bill which allows communities to decide for themselves, but which only affects Easter Sunday, or one which affects both days but leaves the decision in the hands of local councils with no scope for public consultation before the bill reaches committee. Hopefully this will be able to be addressed by a Supplementary Order Paper during the committee stage, allowing the best parts to be passed as one bill.
The issue as far as I'm concerned is really public holidays; neither bill amends the Holidays Act 2003, so if shops open on Good Friday workers are entitled to time and a half and a day in lieu (and under the protection provisions, cannot be forced to work). Unfortunately, no such protection exists for Easter Sunday, it being seen as unnecessary when shops were forbidden to open. But if we're going to have Easter in the Holidays Act, while at the same time allowing shops to open if they're willing to properly compensate their workers, then it strikes me that Easter Sunday should be given the same protection and be listed in s44. This would be irrelevant to most workplaces, as offices tend not to operate on a Sunday anyway (the Holidays Act only grants a paid day off if it is a day that would otherwise be a working day) - but it would ensure a level playing field between the two days. The select committee considered a consequential amendment to the Holidays Act to be "beyond the scope of [the] bill[s]", and I'm not sure if an SOP can be put to propose it. But it would be IMHO an excellent solution.
The bills will get their Second Reading in late February.