Employment Update – Week 3, June

Updated: Jun 24, 2019


Special rule for bus operators dealing with new rest and meal breaks

On 6 May 2019, an amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000 came into effect which reintroduces a requirement for employers to provide breaks of prescribed timing and duration.

The requirement for rigid adherence to precise duration and timing of breaks is more challenging for some industries than others. The government has recognised that the bus transport industry is one requiring more time to adjust. Accordingly, the government announced that it has introduced a new land transport rule that aims to help avert bus services being cancelled and give bus drivers the rest breaks they need to keep passengers safe.

The government advised that the new rule was in response to concerns raised by councils, bus operators and unions that the new rest and meal break entitlements would cause the cancellation of numerous daily bus services.

The Minister for Transport, Phil Twyford, said the new rule gives flexibility to bus operators when scheduling rest breaks for bus drivers.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said that in addition to the new land transport rule, councils, union heads and bus operators had agreed on a memorandum of understanding.

The rule came into effect on the same date as the new rest and meal breaks legislation: 6 May 2019. It is intended to be a transitional rule while bus operators adjust to the new rest and meal breaks requirements and expires 12 months after its commencement.

The rule aims to space the 10-minute rest breaks efficiently and safely rather than necessitating that they must rigidly take place in the middle of the work period. It also aims to prevent the disruptive effects on mobility or potential safety risks by avoiding the need for drivers to stop in inappropriate locations in order to take breaks.

The press release from the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Iain Lees-Galloway, and the Minister for Transport, Phil Twyford, can be seen at www.beehive.govt.nz. “Land Transport Rule: Work Time in Large Passenger Service Vehicles 2019” can be obtained from www.nzta.govt.nz.

Question and Answer

Dismissing a casual employee

Background: We have an employee on a casual employment agreement with us. Very serious concerns have arisen which we think amount to serious misconduct, and we are thinking of dismissing the employee and are very concerned with him being in the workplace now. Normally we would follow a disciplinary investigation process, but this is only a casual employee.

Question: Do we still need to follow a process?