Legislated breaks for workers are unnecessary according to Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly. His bitter protest against proposed changes to employment legislation that would guarantee rights to breaks that workers should have anyway, was joined by Hospitality Association chief exec Bruce Robertson despairing
that no one is allowed to do anything anymore.
Phil says current legislation, providing for worker and employer to make a â€˜mutual’ agreement on breaks, are enough and breaks are happening anyway. If these breaks are happening anyway, then why are Phil and Bruce so oddly shaken by the idea that they’ll be guaranteed?
The truth is in many instances, particularly in the hospitality industry, adequate breaks are not happening (just ask your average cafe worker). The inevitable reality of individual agreements between an employer and employees they are not â€˜mutual’ at all when power imbalance between the two is considered.
Where such individual agreements exist, often the employee has nothing to rely on but the law to ensure they get their breaks and they can’t even rely on that at the moment.
Perhaps what Bruce is really trying to lament with his tantrum is that employers are increasingly unable to exploit their employees. Boohoo.