Rest and meal breaks

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 introduced a number of changes to the workplace, including the rest and meal break entitlements.

Here is a breakdown of what employers need to provide their employees.

What breaks are employees entitled to?

Employers need to ensure they are providing their employees with adequate number of breaks based on the number of hours that they work. The Act provides an exemption from the set rest and meal break entitlements in certain circumstances for essential services or employers that engage in New Zealand’s national security.

The table below sets out the minimum rest and meal breaks an employee is entitled to, based on the length of an employee’s work period.

Length of employee’s work period

 

Minimum number of rest and/or meal breaks employees are to be provided.

 

2.00 - 4.00 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break 

4.01 - 6.00 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break 

1 x 30 minute unpaid meal break 

6.01 - 10.00 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

1 x 30 minute unpaid meal break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

10.01 – 12 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

1 x 30 minute unpaid meal break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

12.01 to 14 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

First 30 minute unpaid meal break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

Second 30 minute unpaid meal break

14.01 to 16 hours

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

First 30 minute unpaid meal break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

Second 30 minute unpaid meal break

1 x 10 minute paid rest break

 

When do the breaks need to be taken?

The employer and employee can agree when the rest and meal breaks are to be taken. The Government makes is clear that ‘both employers and employees have an obligation to act in good faith when negotiating timing for breaks’.

The parties can agree any flexibility that is required around the timing of breaks i.e. ‘that their first 10 minute paid rest break can be taken at the endpoint of a service delivery run within the first four hours of the work period’.

Employers need to consider their health and safety obligations in agreeing to the timing of breaks (for example, managing the risks that may arise from worker fatigue).

What next?

Employers need to ensure their contracts and agreements reflect rest and meal breaks as necessary. To discuss how these changes affect your organisation call us on (03) 366 4034 or email info@eqconsultants.co.nz

This article is not intended as legal advice but is intended to alert you to current topics of interest.