Meal Breaks Law

The Herald reports:

The Government has introduced a law change that will allow bosses to withhold workers’ regular breaks, and instead pay for the time or trade the breaks for time off later.

National’s bill allows bosses to replace regular breaks with “compensatory measures”.

These include being able to start work late or leave early, or stockpile the missed breaks and trade them for a day off.

Some history:

The bill will repeal the law passed by Labour last year which gave workers two 10-minute breaks and a half-hour lunch break at reasonably well-spaced times each day.

Before that, there was no statutory requirement for paid breaks, although most workers negotiated them as part of their employment contracts.

And you know, despite no statutory requirement, I don’t know of any great plethora of complaints from workers not allowed a break. Most employers are reasonable people.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the changes were aimed at restoring flexibility for employers, by allowing them to time breaks in a way that did not disrupt their businesses.

It is partly aimed at solving problems in workplaces such as sole-charge air traffic control watchtowers.

You actually had airports having to close down twice a day, because Labour’s law didn’t allow for flexibility.

But Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said last year’s law was flexible enough to cater for different businesses while giving “the most vulnerable” protection.

The new bill replaces the minimum rest break lengths with the more general guideline requiring employers to give workers “a reasonable opportunity … for rest, refreshment and attending to personal matters”.

Again I’d love same actual examples (ie name the employers) who had not allowed staff meal and refreshment breaks.

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