This guide sets out the minimum requirements for meal and rest times as per the Employment Relations Act 2000.
This A-Z guide provides a brief outline of the requirements for employers in regard to the provision
of rest, meal and infant feeding breaks in the workplace.
Prior to 6 May 2019, employers were required to provide employees with a reasonable opportunity
to take rest and meal breaks that were of an appropriate duration. The law did not specify the
number, duration or position of breaks within the work day, and employers were also allowed to
substitute breaks with reasonable compensation.
The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (“the Act”) effective from 6 May 2019, requires
that employees have set rest and meal breaks. The number and duration of breaks will depend on
the hours worked. Employers and employees can still agree on the timing of the breaks, but in the
absence of agreement, the Act requires breaks to be taken at specific times during a work period,
so long as it is reasonable and practicable to do so.
The Act provides an exemption from the set rest and meal break entitlements in certain
circumstances for essential services or employers that engage in the protection of New Zealand’s
national security.

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