If you are an employee or employer in New Zealand there are things you should know about your rights and responsibilities:

  • The minimum employment rights apply to all employees in New Zealand.
  • All employers have obligations to ensure their employees are receiving their minimum employment rights.
  • The minimum rights and obligations always apply as minimum levels based on New Zealand law.

Your employee minimum rights include:

  • Pay of the minimum wage if you are 16 or older. The current minimum wage rates (before tax) are as at 1 April 2022: Adult rate is $21.20 per hour  The Starting-out/Training rates are $16.96 per hour.
  • Set breaks based on your work shift. For example, for an eight-hour shift you have the right to two 10-minute paid rest breaks plus one unpaid 30-minute meal break.
  • Four weeks' paid annual holidays (leave) after 12 months service.
  • Public holiday pay rates of at least 1.5 times your normal pay, plus another paid day off if it’s a usual work day for you.
  • Sick leave to care for yourself/family after 6 months service, of 10 days per year from your next or first entitlement date effective from 24 July 2021. Prior to this date, the entitlement is 5 days per year.
  • A signed contract that must include: your pay, duties, hours of work, place of work, nature of employment if fixed term, your name, employee protections and more.

Plus, there’s many more rights to know including: bereavement, parental and family violence leave, protection from unlawful discrimination, unfair dismissal and bullying and harassment.

Your employer's minimum obligations include:

  • Employers must keep accurate records of an employee’s time worked, payments, and holiday and leave entitlements.
  • Keep a signed, current copy of the contract available to the employee on request.
  • Give proper consideration of employee flexible working arrangement requests.
  • Follow a fair process for any issues of misconduct, employee performance and redundancy.
  • Ensure the worker (employee or contractor) has the legal right to work in New Zealand.

Plus, there’s many more obligations to know including: correct calculations of pay and leave entitlements, health and safety in the workplace, and allowing for the lawful rights to union membership and access to work sites.

Employees and employers can of course discuss better rights than the legal minimums. When these are agreed they should be noted in the contract for future reference.

Getting more information and support is easy

Contact Employment New Zealand to get information, resources and tools to make understanding your key rights and obligations simple and convenient for you.

Friendly helpline staff can discuss your issue and provide you with information, options to handle your problem, and refer you to support including community-based legal advice. If you prefer to, you can make contact anonymously or via a support person. Your contact will be treated with confidentiality.

Migrant exploitation

Some employers use fear to take advantage of migrant workers. This is wrong. The New Zealand Government wants to stop employers from exploiting migrants. We want you to report any exploitation at work.

If you think this applies to you or someone you know, please visit Migrant exploitation to learn more and access the Reporting form – Migrant exploitation and details of the Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa.

Empower yourself

Upskill via free online learning for both employees and employers to know their rights and obligations.

Sign-up here and learn at your own pace: Employment Learning Modules

The learning module An Introduction To Your Employment Rights is specially designed for ethnic communities. It provides an engaging way to get an overview of employment rights and responsibilities. There are translated versions in: Samoan, Tongan, Mandarin, Hindi, Tagalog (Filipino), Korean, Samoan and Maori.

The module takes just 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It is mobile-friendly, has interactive exercises, a multi-choice quiz, a fact sheet and even a certificate.

Check out Connected - Employment, Education and Training

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