Kindercare, an NZ for-profit commercial childcare centre chain and the main/largest member of the lobby group 'Early Childhood Council', failed to tell a cook she was entitled to rest breaks.
The cook's employment agreement provided that her “normal hours of work will be 8.00am to 3.30pm with a ½ hour unpaid lunch break, Monday to Friday”. There was no mention of rest breaks. She worked for Kindercare from 2009 until mid-2012 when she became aware that legally she was entitled to a 10 minute break in the morning and afternoon of her shifts.
The Employment Relations Authority has rapped Kindercare over the knuckles and told it off for not ensuring the provision of breaks. The Authority held that the duty to provide breaks falls upon the employer.
Kindercare had not ensured the provision of breaks and, in doing so, breached a duty imposed by the Employment Relations Act
The cook was awarded compensation in respect of hurt suffered following Kindercare’s unjustified action.
Read more at the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce website.
Update: Effective from March 2015 the rules were changed to allow employers to have more flexibility, leaving it to employers and employees to negotiate, in good faith, rest and meal breaks. Now, an employer is exempt from giving breaks – when employees agree to reasonable compensation or where the employer cannot reasonably give the employee rest and meal breaks. Reasonable compensatory measures must be provided when an employer is exempt from the requirements to provide breaks. Rest breaks must be paid. An employee either gets a break or a compensatory measure; the employer cannot fail to give either.