The NZ Herald editorial this morning is having a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour party and their whinge fest over tea breaks.
It is a pity that almost the first legislative act of the Government’s new term is an act abolishing mandatory “tea breaks” for workers.
Certainly the previous law was dated, though it was enacted under Labour as recently as 2008. It was an echo of an era when most work was menial, repetitive, tedious, sometimes exhausting, and most people were employed on terms negotiated collectively. Today a minority of the workforce belongs to unions and those who do are mostly in state employment. They are in desk jobs or professions and hardly need rest and meal breaks specified in law.
In fact most might have been alarmed to be permitted just one paid 10-minute break in a period of two to four hours, or two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute meal break in a six to eight-hour working day. The Government has replaced those provisions with a less precise requirement for rest and meal breaks to be agreed between employers and staff. It is a sensible change but was it necessary? The previous law operated as a statutory minimum, a safety net for anyone with an unreasonable employer, but it hardly intruded on normal workplaces.
For a start tea breaks are not abolished, they are made more flexible allowing workers to take breaks when peaks times are at an end.¬† Read more »