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Tuesday, October 27

Bill for new rest and meal break legislation introduced

A Bill granting greater flexibility to existing meal and rest breaks legislation was introduced to Parliament today on behalf of Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Employment Relations (Rest Breaks and Meal Breaks) Amendment Bill amends the Employment Relations Act 2000, giving employers and employees the opportunity to develop rest and meal break policies best suited to individual requirements.

Ms Wilkinson says the Bill moves the legislative focus from prescription to flexibility, and encourages both employers and staff to negotiate in good faith about workable rest and meal break arrangements.

"Everyone needs to take breaks during their hours of work - but the law as it stands is too rigid and makes life difficult for a number of occupations and industries.

"A one-size-fits-all approach to the taking of rest and meal breaks simply doesn't work. This government recognises that and we want to restore some common-sense to the law with the introduction of this Bill."

Under the Bill, there is still the requirement to provide meal breaks and paid rest breaks, but there will now be the added provision for compensatory measures - for example, later start or earlier finish times, or time off in lieu. The Bill introduces flexibility for workplaces to time rest breaks and meal breaks to suit service or production continuity.