New Zealand provides good working environments for both government and private sectors.
The amount of pay you can receive for a job varies depending on where you are employed in the country, your employment agreement, your experience and qualifications and your employer’s employment policies.
In New Zealand you are entitled to at least the minimum wage as set by law if you are 16 years or older. Employment agreements cannot offer a wage less than the minimum rate, however apprentices or employers holding special permits may be exempt from the minimum wage level.
New Zealand residents and citizens are required to pay tax on all income received, whether this is generated in New Zealand or overseas. To do so you will need to apply to the Inland Revenue Department for an IRD number. This is generally issued within a few days and is required to start a job or open a bank account, it also ensure that personal tax records are recorded properly.
Workplace injuries are covered by the Government’s accident insurance scheme, which is managed by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). In order to reduce the incidence of workplace injuries, the ACC also runs incentive programmes which provide employers with discounts on their premiums if certain safety targets are met.
Health & Safety
New Zealand’s occupational and safety laws require all employers to provide a safe working environment. Likewise, employees must follow all safety procedures.
All employers must offer their workers either an individual or collective Employment Agreement written in plain language.
Employment Agreements should include:
- Minimum wages for employees aged 18 or older
- Minimum wages for employees aged 16-17
- The same rate for the same job for male and female employees
- Four weeks’ paid annual leave after 12 months in the job
- 11 public holidays per year, when those fall on days of the week when an employee would otherwise work
- after 6 months’ employment, for most employees there is a minimum provision of five days’ paid sick leave. Sick leave can be used when an employee is sick or injured, or when the employee’s spouse or a dependent person (such as a child or elderly parent) is sick or injured and needs care.
- after 12 months’ employment, up to 12 months’ parental leave
- leave for defence force volunteers
Employment agreements may also include conditions relating to duties and responsibilities, the term of the agreement, pay rates, pay day, hours of work, health and safety, company policy, redundancy, restraint of trade, etc.
There is no automatic right to the renewal or extension of an Employment agreement unless this is specifically stated in your agreement. As a general rule, a short-term agreement means just that. So it pays to be cautious about your expectations of continued employment, even though you may feel you have preformed well in a temporary position.
Employees can resign at any time as long as it is within the conditions of their employment agreement.
There must be good reason for a dismissal and the dismissal must be carried out fairly. If the employee believes they have been treated unfairly in their employment, whether they have been dismissed or not, they may take legal action against their employer in the form of a ‘personal grievance’.
There is no right to redundancy compensation unless employers and employees and/or their union have agreed to it. This can be before or after an actual redundancy is planned.
New Zealand’s National Superannuation Scheme entitles all to a pension at the age of 65. Residence requirements vary. There is no set age to retire and it is illegal to force retirement because of an employee’s age.
Unions and Bargaining
Employees can choose whether they wish to join a union. Jobs cannot be withheld on the basis of membership or non-membership of a trade union. Employees who choose to belong to a union are covered by the union’s collective agreement.
Employees who choose not to belong to a trade union must negotiate an individual Employment agreement.
Conditions depend on whether a collective agreement covers the employee’s work. If there is no collective agreement then an individual Employment agreement is negotiated. The employer must make a written offer and give the employee the opportunity to get advice about it. If there is a collective agreement, the following options are available.
If the employee belongs to the union then conditions of employment are those in the collective agreement. The employer and employee can also negotiate extra conditions.
If the employee is not a union member then the employee has an individual Employment agreement. This comprises the conditions in the collective agreement and any extra conditions negotiated with the employer. After 30 days the employee must decide whether to join the union. If the employee chooses not to join the union then the employer and employee must negotiate an individual agreement.