Written By: - Date published: 1:54 pm, March 26th, 2008 - 8 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

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 ‘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 ‘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.

8 comments on “Boohoo”

  1. higherstandard 1

    IrishBill says: Please do not cut and paste the same comments across threads.

  2. Tane 2

    And you’ve been answered back over there HS:

    Meal breaks

    O’Reilly thinks meal breaks etc are a nice idea if you can get them, but he thinks they should be granted to workers as a privelige, not a right.

    And if your employer chooses to use the imbalance of power in the employment relationship to say you have to work eight hours without a break, well, that means you have to work eight hours without a break. Can’t you see? It’s in everyone’s interests that we don’t ‘overprescribe’ employment rights.

  3. randal 3

    we live in an irrational, anti intellectual, anti everything world these days and it is none so well illustrated as the drive to stand over workers when many studies have been done that say workers perform better when they have regular breaks but the drive to dominate by would be big swinging dicks is paramount in the environment at the moment..i.e. show them who is boss! otherwise what is the point of being boss?

  4. Hillary 4

    Are we interested in breastfeeding breaks the legislation also provides for?????

  5. Ari 5

    The point of being boss is because you can improve conditions for everyone randal- ie. you’re qualified to do it 😉 Not that I don’t like to put words in peoples’ mouths now and then.

    I think setting a low minimum on breaks is an excellent idea. While LOTS of breaks is certainly a privilege, having adequate time to eat or deal quickly with personal issues while on the job aren’t just quality of life concerns, they likely both decrease stress and increase productivity. I think it’s a great case of minimalistic interference to make people work smarter, rather than harder, and after a few years it will just be taken as standard, and the only businesses this will hurt are ones that try to make a quick buck off cheap labour.

    I’m somewhat amused you guys didn’t cover the breastfeeding bit though 😉

  6. randal 6

    well ari if they can improve conditions for everyone because they are boss then why aren’t they doing IT!

  7. Ari 7

    Because they haven’t got the point of being a boss, Randal, they are either being obstructed by higher management or by their own egos. (which is kind of analogous with obstructive higher management, anyway)

  8. Tane 8

    Regarding the breastfeeding bit, fair point. I guess our two pieces were responding to the controversy, which was focused on the meal and refreshment breaks rather than the breastfeeding.

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