Controversial 'tea break' law fails to fly in National's first week

An attempt to get 'mean-spirited' legislation through Parliament, which could see an end to smoko breaks, has been delayed.

Labour's Andrew Little says the government has been left with egg on its face after failing to get its hugely unpopular meal break law passed in the first week of its new term.

Labour has launched a petition calling on the Government to dump changes to clause 44 of the proposed law, which it says would do away with minimum entitlements to smoko breaks.

"The Bill fundamentally changes the nature of many hard-won employee rights; it also does away with collective bargaining protections, makes vulnerable workers' jobs even less secure and undermines the principles of good faith," Mr Little says.

"To begrudge anyone having a cuppa or a meal break during their working day goes against the grain. It's a Kiwi tradition. Doing away with it is mean-spirited and unfair."

The government is seeking changes to clauses 43 to 46 of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, that govern existing rules for employees' entitlements to rest and meal breaks.

The current provision requires employers to provide to employees break and meal times which, for a typical eight hour work day, is two 10 minute paid breaks and 30 minutes unpaid meal time. The new provision says employees are entitled to rest and meal breaks but they may be subject to restrictions by the employer.

The new provision also does away with any prescribed timing for the breaks and says it is up to the employer and employee to negotiate their duration.

A group of meat workers working in the factory. Source: 1 NEWS

More From