Are you getting it right?
Small businesses hiring employees for the first time have a lot of new ground to cover – everything from setting appropriate salaries to following health and safety regulations. One of the many decisions you will be faced with is what breaks you will give your staff.
Recent changes to the Employment Regulations Act 2000 have done away with specifications for the frequency and length of rest and meal breaks and left it wide open for negotiation.
It now specifies that employees must be given breaks which:
There are two types of breaks:
These are typically 10-15 minutes long and must be paid for by the employer – these are typically morning and afternoon tea breaks.
These are typically 30 or 60 minutes long and are not required to be paid for by the employer.
Under the old legislation any employee working a shift of at least 3 hours was required to take a rest break. Anyone working 4-6 hours was required to take one rest break and one meal break; a 6-8 hour shift would give an employee one meal break and two rest breaks.
How do you now determine the length and frequency of breaks?
As an employer, you must give employees a reasonable opportunity to negotiate in good faith and reach agreement over the timing and length of breaks. If a specific agreement between employee and employer is not made, the employer should choose reasonable times and lengths by giving consideration to:
The old rules may be a good starting point to determine what breaks to schedule for employees, or you may decide what breaks they get but let your employees determine when to take them. Whatever the agreement is, it’s crucial that this is recorded in writing, usually in an employment agreement.
Ensuring the employees also have adequate support to take their breaks is important – if someone is working in a sole charge capacity and needs to interrupt their break to serve a customer this is acceptable, but interruptions due to insufficient staff being rostered is not!
If you need further guidance on your obligations as an employer to give adequate breaks email us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (04) 970 3600. We here to help business owners get it right.