Prepare for new break, breastfeeding laws

The country’s employers and employees are being encouraged to plan ahead so they will be ready for new legislation providing rest and meal breaks for all workers and breaks and facilities for infant feeding in the workplace.

MEDIA RELEASE

30 January 2009
Employers and workers encouraged to prepare for new rest breaks and breastfeeding laws

The country’s employers and employees are being encouraged to plan ahead so they will be ready for new legislation providing rest and meal breaks for all workers and breaks and facilities for infant feeding in the workplace.

The new Breaks and Infant Feeding provisions are contained in the Employment Relations (Rest Breaks, Infant Feeding and Other Matters) Amendment Act and become law on 1 April 2009.

Department of Labour Head of Employment Relations Craig Armitage says employers should undertake a stock take of their operations in order to identify what changes, if any, they need to implement before the new law comes into effect. “If implemented carefully, these changes offer potential benefits to workplaces. Supporting mothers to breastfeed at work potentially encourages more women to return to work after a period of parental leave, and can help employers to retain these employees.”

The legislation requires employers to provide employees with paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks. Employees will be entitled to:
● one paid 10-minute rest break if their work period is between two and four hours;

● one paid 10-minute rest break and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if their work period is between four and six hours;

● two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if their work period is between six and eight hours.

Where employees work for periods longer than eight hours, these provisions automatically reapply for each succeeding work period.

While many employers already provide rest and meal breaks that meet these new minimum requirements, employers should still review their rosters and ensure they are consistent with the new law,” says Mr Armitage. “That is particularly important for organisations that operate continuously, such as hospitals and some manufacturing and service enterprises.”

He says the new law has considerable flexibility to ensure minimum disruption to business operations, as it allows employers and employees to agree on the timing of rest breaks. Rest breaks are normally undertaken in the workplace.

The new legislation also requires employers to provide breaks and facilities for employees who want to breastfeed their babies or express milk in the workplace. Employers are able to take into account operational requirements and the availability of resources when negotiating arrangements with their employees.

While providing facilities could incur minor costs for employers, Mr Armitage says most solutions can be simple and practical.

The Department of Labour is developing a Code of Employment Practice which will provide an additional option for employers on how to comply with their obligations regarding the infant feeding provisions of the Act. The Code will be published following consultation with relevant groups and once it has been approved by the Minister of Labour.

Further information is available on the Department’s website www.dol.govt.nz
ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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