The Government promised that it would substantially overhaul New Zealand’s employment laws in its first couple of years in office.
During the years of the National-led Government of former Prime Minister John Key and later former Prime Minister Bill English, significant concerns were raised about New Zealand workplace relations. Concerns existed about:
- How migrant workers were treated and their understanding (or lack of)of their rights as employees in New Zealand
- The youth wage, which was reintroduced during the Ministerial tenure of Simon Bridges
- Occupational Safety and Health, especially in fisheries, farming and other high risk industries where a number of high profile cases occurred
The concerns were not restricted to just the ones mentioned above. These were just the more frequent ones. They were also the issues that tended to provoke the strongest public reaction.
When an attempt was made to amend the rules around when employees could have breaks, whilst at work, concerns were raised about the potential for exploitation. In some professions having regular breaks unless one is in an office environment, might not be always possible, in which case the employer has to reach an agreement with the affected employee/s about some sort of compensatory measure to cover. The new provisions in the incoming legislation require that the employer permit a 10 minute break in work lasting 2 hours but less than 4 hours; a 10 minute break + a 30 minute break if it exceeds 4 hours but is less than 6; 2x 10 minute breaks + a 30 minute break if exceeding 6 but is less than 8.
Trueto form, The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 is before Parliament now and currently open for public submissions. The closing date for submissions is Friday 30 March 2018.