PARIS - France is taking a leisurely August attitude toward a new law that shakes up the country’s traditional devotion to Sunday rest.
Starting tomorrow, more stores have the legal right to open, a step the government is taking in hopes of boosting employment and soaking up added tourist dollars.
But it’s a complicated measure, full of unresolved details that need to be worked out by employers and workers, many of whom are gone for France’s sacrosanct monthlong August holiday break. And in reality, many shops that wanted to get around century-old rules and sell their wares on Sunday have already found ways to do so.
The law will allow all nonfood stores in 494 towns and 29 zones designated special tourist areas to open legally tomorrow. It gives businesses more legal certainty, but those that weren’t already open still have to negotiate new arrangements with workers.
An Ifop survey in June said 59 percent of French were for the change.
President Nicolas Sarkozy won election with the slogan “work more to earn more,’’ and opening more shops on Sunday is part of his recipe for kickstarting France’s economy.
Parliament approved the law last month after vigorous opposition by leftists - and several members of Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party - who say the measure threatens France’s social model and worker rights.
The debate pits supporters of traditional French values of quality of life against those who say they want the country into the 21st century.
The new law seeks to bring order to loopholes that have sprung up around a 1906 law that established Sunday as a mandatory day off.
An official from the office of Labor Minister Xavier Darcos who declined to be named in line with government policy said it’s impossible to know how many businesses will take advantage of the new system.