Businesses could pay for opening early on Anzac Day

BUSINESSES that chose to trade on Anzac Day, legally or unknowingly illegally, should be treated with tolerance, an employment lawyer believes.

According to industrial relations restrictions, independent retail stores, such as clothing shops, chemists and newsagents, were required to be closed until 1pm on Anzac Day.

The only exemption to the rule was for business selling predominantly food, including cafes and convenience stores, which could remain open all day.

All other establishments, including racing venues and factories, were required to keep their doors closed.

Brisbane-based employment lawyer Ian Heathwood said the laws governing businesses allowed to open on Anzac Day were complicated and could be hard to understand, especially for someone new to Australia.

"Anzac day used to be a case where nearly everything was closed all day but over the years this has changed. Businesses need to be clear about who can open and who must stay closed," he said.

Mr Heathwood said many people operating convenience stores were migrants and it was important they should not be subjected to anger from the public if they opened on Anzac Day.

"Don't take it out on them," he said.

"They usually will have a legal right to be open. They are providing a service and trying to make a living and should not be criticised for doing it.

"The most important thing is that we show tolerance and understanding if some businesses are open when legally they should be closed."

McKays Solicitors employment law expert Scott McSwan said companies which operated outside restricted trading hours could face a $20,000 fine or an injunction from the Industrial Relations Commission.

Individuals face a fine of up to $4000.

In 2010, the Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast came under fire for opening at 9am on Anzac Day without written approval from the industrial relations minister.

According to law, public amusement places are only allowed to open from 1.30pm with permission.