4 Sep 2009

Minister responds to cricitism over meal break law

3:21 pm on 4 September 2009

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says she won't be eroding workers' rights if she changes a law that guarantees rest and meal breaks.

The legislation was passed under the previous Government and the Minister says it's creating problems - especially for companies with employees in sole charge roles.

The law requires one half-hour meal break and two 10-minute rest periods during an eight-hour day.

Ms Wilkinson says the law is too rigid about when the breaks must be taken.

She first looked at changes because of an industrial dispute about the timing of breaks for air traffic controllers working alone at smaller airports.

Ms Wilkinson says she hopes to introduce an amendment bill to Parliament this month.

The Labour Party says the the law is flexible enough and the Minister is using the dispute as an excuse.

The Council of Trade Unions says it is very concerned about the review. President Helen Kelly says difficulties faced by employers of sole charge workers are not a valid reason for doing away with breaks for thousands of other workers.