Mcdonald’s Case Shows Flaws In Meal Breaks Law
Unite Union’s court case against McDonalds for unpaid meal breaks highlights the dangers of the Government’s plans to
weaken rest and meal breaks, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues.
“The case involves workers who have been required to work without pay through their breaks, despite the existing law
that says workers are entitled to a half hour unpaid break in every shift of 4 – 6 hours.
“Changes to rest and meal breaks introduced by the new Minister of Labour Simon Bridges in his recently tabled
Employment Relations Amendment Bill will cement that as an employer’s right.
“This issue has sat around since 2009, when the Government panicked about air traffic controllers insisting on their
right to a break and introduced an amendment to meals and rest breaks.
“Despite those issues being resolved by negotiation under the existing legislation and the bill languishing on the order
paper for nearly three years, the Government has revived its flawed legislation which would enable employers to require
workers to work during unpaid meal break time or remain in the workplace.
“The Government has ignored warnings that the removal of the timing and explicit requirement for all workers to have
rest and meal breaks would expose low income and vulnerable workers to having no breaks at all.
“Here we see what happens even with major companies like McDonald’s. The old saying ‘give an inch, take a mile’ confirms
for me that the fundamental right to a break at work needs to be strengthened, not weakened.
“With all the noise from Simon Bridges about workplace health and safety at the moment, it’s disappointing that he
doesn’t appear to understand that the basic right to a break at work goes to the heart of keeping workers safe,” says