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France will move closer towards relaxing restrictions on Sunday opening for shops when a government-commissioned report on proposed reforms is released on Monday.
The report is expected to clarify which sectors will be allowed to do business on Sunday and under which conditions.
Several DIY chains including Bricorama, Castorama and Leroy Merlin have been piling pressure on the government to relax a ban on Sunday work to preserve jobs and help them fight fierce competition from Internet retailers working seven days a week.
Last month, the French government commissioned Jean-Paul Bailly, former head of the French postal service, to produce a report on Sunday openings which will be presented to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday.
France’s unemployment rate, now at 10.9 percent and close to the all-time high of 11.2 percent set in 1997, is a major thorn in the side of French President Francois Hollande who has staked his credibility on turning around the euro zone’s second-biggest economy and lowering the jobless total.
Last week, Hollande backed away from his pledge to bring unemployment down by the end of the year, saying instead that it would take as long as necessary.
According to French daily Les Echos, the Bailly report would not include sectors other than those which in 2009 received exemptions to the ban on Sunday work such as furniture and gardening retailers.
Citing unidentified government sources, Les Echos said the report recommended not granting DIY chains the exemption they were demanding but giving them instead a temporary exemption until the reform was completed.
The report also calls for allowing city mayors to raise the number of Sundays a year shops can open to 12 from 5, according to the weekly Journal du Dimanche.
Paris tourist hot spots Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have long been calling to be allowed to work more Sundays.
“The majority of employees do not want to work on Sunday and want it to be clearly framed,” Laurent Berger, secretary general of French union CFDT told French radio Europe 1 on Sunday.
According to a CFDT survey, 60 percent of people under 25 are in favor of working on Sunday. It is also the age category suffering most from unemployment with a jobless rate of close to 25 percent.
(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Mark Potter)