Tea Breaks ER Amendment Bill: Top 3 Reasons Why The ‘Tea Break’ Is Essential To NZ’s Economy

What were they thinking? For more than a century the basic right to a cuppa has been a respected part of our working day.

 In New Zealand, as in the UK, our love of a strong brew and a quick chat has been respected as a part of our culture; however the recently-passed Employment Relations Amendment Bill has removed our previously undisputed rights to tea breaks, among other things – if you have a spare hour up your sleeve, you can read the wording of the bill here or for those of us who’d rather see the highlights than sit through the whole documentary, here’s a briefer version.

So what does this mean for NZ? Other than a drop in tea and coffee sales around the country, the removal of our right to a 10 minute break could have potentially disastrous repercussions. From a health and safety viewpoint alone, these amendments are simply asking for trouble – check out our top 3 points below to see what we mean!

Top 3 Reasons Why We Need Refreshment Breaks In NZ


To enhance our productivity

Yes, that’s right. Taking regular breaks has been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN to enhance the productivity of employees. John Trougakos, associate professor of Organisational Behavior & HR Management at the University of Toronto, co-authored a study on the effects of work breaks for employees. He argues that our brains have a limited pool of psychological energy; and postulates that ‘once that energy source is depleted, we become less effective at everything that we do.’ (see here for more). “Turns out, the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday is not working longer – but working smarter with frequent breaks,” wrote Julia Gifford in The Muse when she posted the study’s results. Employees with the highest levels of productivity worked for 52 minutes with intense purpose, then rested up, allowing their brains time to rejuvenate and prepare for the next work period. Proof that we need to drink that tea, recharge, before we get back into it!


To avoid loneliness, and increase socialisation

You may think you are a creative island, a dynamo capable of working independently, no colleagues, no interruptions, no distractions. You’d be wrong. While it’s true that many of us work well when undisturbed, the need for mini-breaks and conversation has come to the forefront of many workplace-based productivity studies. The Importance of Social Interactions in the Workplace is one such study. Completed by Iris Y. Lin & Catherine T. Kwantes, results indicated employees who engaged in high levels of private interaction with co-workers were expected to be better liked, to receive better performance evaluations, were more likely to receive co-worker assistance, and were thought to be more likely chosen for future projects.This is where the need for social breaks comes in; coffee anyone?


To save your life!

Okay, that might be taking things a step too far – but save your eyesight? Sure. Avoid back problems? Absolutely. Decrease fatigue? Negate depression? Avoid Musculo-skeletal disorders(MSD)? Yes, yes and yes. Taking regular breaks from your workstation is integral to your physical and mental well-being. Aside from the productivity implications of reduced mental acuity through lack of stimulation, the physical ramifications of uninterrupted work time are impossible to ignore. ACC actually has, in black and white, stated the need for regular breaks on their website. I quote:

‘Work with your employer to manage fatigue-related risks in the workplace. Some simple things you can do at work are:

vary work tasks so you stay alert
take regular breaks
tell your supervisor or manager if you’re feeling fatigued

So there you have them. My top 3 reasons why tea breaks are an essential part of our working day – not simply because we all love a cuppa while we’re at work, but for the simple facts that we are more productive, we become more valuable team members, and we reduce our risk of injury in the workplace when we take time out to recharge. If this new legislation confuses you, call us! We provide expert advice and assistance with your health and safety needs – it’s the best thing you can do for your organisation!

ReflectNZ Ltd works throughout the Northland region: Whangarei, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kaitaia, Dargaville, other North Island locations and beyond.