Giving workers a break

Something to celebrate! Parliament has passed an amendment to the Employment Relations Act providing for facilities for breastfeeding at work and giving workers automatic entitlements to paid, if minimal, rest breaks:

  • a 10-minute paid rest break after having worked for a 2 hour period.
  • after 4 hours, but less than 6 hours, a one 10-minute paid break and a 30-minute unpaid break.
  • after more than 6 hours but less than 8 hours, two 10-minute and one 30-minute unpaid break.

The background to this was traversed in an earlier post. Despite the National Party’s employment relations spokesperson saying that “by all accounts, common sense prevails and [employees being given meal and tea breaks] does happen”, it doesn’t. (She also displayed her ignorance of her shadow portfolio area by saying that “arguably [teabreaks] are enshrined in the health and safety legislation”, when they’re not. Not even “arguably.”)

Well done to Trevor Mallard and all those involved.



8 Responses to “Giving workers a break”

  1. AndrewE Says:

    This is the kind of stuff I like to see my government doing. Well done to them.

  2. Dylan Says:

    I’m just waiting for someone to start complaining about this- I don’t know why, it seems pretty just to me, but it feels like it’s one of those things that some conservative prick’s bound to start moaning about anytime soon.

  3. AndrewE Says:

    I think you’ll find that many conservatives give credit where credit is due.

  4. macdoctor01 Says:

    The law probably needed a little more flexibility in it, but that’s always hard to do with legislation. I would have like to have seen a cumulative 5 minutes every hour with the break time flexible and at the employees discretion. But this is certainly not a bad law – very workable.

    Unlike some others I could mention.

  5. macdoctor01 Says:

    Forgot to include a meal break of 20 minutes for every shift > 4 hours. You can add your accumulated time to this to e.g For an 8 hour shift you could take up to an entire hour for lunch.

    Agreed MacDoc, but remember, these are minimum conditions, and most of the workforce will get that flexibility I suspect. For those who have been denied breaks (see my earlier post) this will be like Xmas. As long as they can ensure compliance, which is a problem in that sector.

  6. vandem Says:

    30-minute PAID meal break !? Don’t think so.

    Normal business practice is a 10 min paid smoko every 2 hours, and an unpaid 30 min meal break. Moving to a paid 30 min meal break would be a significant change in workforce legislation. This is what I can see in the bill: (

    “(3) If an employee’s work period is more than 4 hours but not more than 6 hours, the employee is entitled to—
    “(a) one 10-minute paid rest break; and
    “(b) one 30-minute meal break.

    Thanks,van dem, it’s now corrected. Hell, you’d think Radio NZ would get it right. I see that they’ve now corrected the error in their report. The amendment is still a bloody good thing.

  7. Julie Says:

    I think the argument about the h&s legislation is that someone could take a case about lack of breaks creating a hazard. But the work required before a case could be taken (having a h&s rep issue a hazard notice, employer failing to deal with it, etc) means there is such a high hurdle to achieving even getting to court that it is pretty meaningless. And in the how many years since the current h&s legislation came in (8?) there hasn’t been a case yet.

  8. jafapete Says:

    Know what you mean, Julie. I knew someone working with high voltage electricity on a contract with no breaks… almost killed himself cleaning under a transformer. They did a full report, and blamed him. He was cutting corners to get the job done. Never mind that he did not profit in any way himself from doing this.

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