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Bill could give workers back their smoko breaks

15 May 2017

A member’s bill that would restore workers’ breaks has been introduced to Parliament.

The Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to a Break at Work) Amendment Bill has been tabled by the outgoing Labour MP Sue Moroney.

The bill notes that in 2014 the National Government passed changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 that removed workers’ rights to rest and meal breaks after regular periods of work.

“Since the enactment of this legislation, we have seen large corporates attempting to remove their employees’ rights in contradiction to the Government’s claims that the legislation would benefit small businesses,” the draft consultation document notes.

This Bill seeks to repeal those changes and reinstate New Zealanders’ rights to rest and meal breaks at work.

It would mean that if the employee’s work period is between two and four hours, the employee would be entitled to one 10-minute paid rest break; if it is between four and six hours that would also include a 30-minute meal break; if between six and hours the employee would be entitled to two 10-minute paid rest breaks; and one 30-minute meal break. There would also be extra paid breaks for those working more than eight hours.

Bill would make councils consider Māori wards

Meanwhile, Marama Davidson’s Local Electoral (Equitable Process for Establishing Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill has also been introduced to Parliament.

The member's bill would require territorial authorities and regional councils to consider, at least once every six years, whether to establish Māori wards and Māori constituencies.

Currently, if a territorial authority or regional council resolves to establish a Māori ward or constituency, a poll on the issue must be held if 5% of the electors of the city, district or region request it.

The result of such a poll is binding on the authority or council for at least two elections. There is no equivalent requirement applicable to the establishment of general wards or constituencies.

“This discrepancy sets a double standard that limits Māori participation and representation in local government by allowing it only if the majority agree. This runs counter to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which guarantees Māori participation and representation in local government,” the draft consultation document notes.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019