30 Jun 2019

New laws see hours reduced at two Canterbury libraries

11:13 am on 30 June 2019

New employment rules have led one small council to cut the opening hours at its sole charge libraries.

No caption

Ms van der Monde says it is impractical to hire someone to cover just the half an hour lunch break, or to have two split shifts at the library. Photo: Photo / 123RF

In May, new rules came into force that ensure employees are entitled to set lunch and tea breaks, if they work more than two hours a day.

The Hurunui District Council public services manager Audrey van der Monde said to meet the requirements the Cheviot and Hanmer Springs libraries would now both shut up for half an hour in the middle of the day.

Ms van der Monde said it was impractical to hire someone to cover just the half an hour lunch break, or to have two split shifts.

"When the law actually changes, without exception all of our employees who were in the situation where we had to make a change for them to have a break, had they been given the choice, they would have preferred to have carried on how they had been operating," Ms van der Monde said.

"In every case, each individual was entirely comfortable with how things were. They felt as if they had ample opportunity within the normal working day to have a break. And on the odd occasion, when they might have been rushed off their feet, they were able to deal with it."

However, Ms van der Monde said the council did feel that as a leader in the community it was obliged to adhere to the intent and spirit of the law.

She said she suspects that in years to come people may be surprised workers were not ensured an uninterrupted lunch break.

The local recycling centre is also a sole charge operation and is also affected by the changes, but Ms van der Monde said staff from the nearby council service centre will provide cover for the staff as needed.