Every country has its own set of employment laws and there may be significant differences between them. If you’re planning to immigrate to New Zealand, you’ll need to have some understanding of the employment laws before you begin your job search.

New Zealand employment law aims to be fair on both employer and employee. After all, good working relationships are key to finding success in your job.

New Zealand employment law covers all bases from holiday entitlements to employment rights. Employment NZ offer easy access to a range of resources should you want to find out more at any time.

Here we will cover the key information surrounding employment agreements and what you need to be aware of.

Employment Agreement information

The purpose of a good employment agreement is so employees and employers have the same set of expectations for the job.

Employment Agreements should highlight both the expectations and entitlements of employer and employee. This reduces the possibility of misunderstandings and offers a resource to refer back to if there needs to be clarification around an issue.

Every employee in New Zealand must have a written agreement signed by both employer and employee. Employers are required by law to keep a copy of the agreement and employees are able to request a copy at any time.

In New Zealand, employers with fewer than 19 employees are entitled to offer employment under a 90 day trial period. If they choose to do this, it needs to be written in the employment agreement.

Employees on trial must be treated the same as other employees and have all minimum entitlements during this time.

Employment rights and responsibilities

As an employee, your employment agreement should include the minimum set of rights and responsibilities. Your employer may decide to add specific details relevant to your position.

Full-time, part-time, casual, contract, permanent or fixed term, all employees must have their rights and responsibilities outlined in an employment agreement. New Zealand employment laws minimum rights aim to protect employees, making sure the employer acts in good faith and all employees have a safe, non-discriminatory working environment.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities as an employee, Employment NZ have created a number of learning modules. You can find these here.

Employment NZ have also created a quick guide to learning the key minimum employment rights. You can find this here.

Holiday and leave entitlements

Under New Zealand employment law, when employees meet certain conditions, they become entitled to annual leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, parental leave and public holidays.

Here we will explain the different types of leave and how you might be entitled to them.

Alternative holidays

Alternative holidays are given to employees who have had to work on a public holiday. Alternative holidays are also called ‘lieu days’ or ‘days off in lieu’. However, lieu terms can often refer to other types of leave so it is recommended that your employment contract refers to this type of leave as alternative holidays.

There are some terms and conditions around taking alternative holidays. Learn what they are here.

Minimum leave and holiday entitlements

In New Zealand, the minimum leave entitlement is four weeks annual holiday after each 12 months of continuous employment under the same employer.

Sick leave and bereavement leave can be taken after 6 months, however.

Employers are required to inform employees of their holiday entitlements within their employment agreement. If an issue arises around taking leave, you will first need to try and sort it out with your employer.

If you are still having trouble, feel free to contact a representative of Employment NZ here.

Parental leave

If you’re expecting a child while employed in New Zealand, you may be entitled to apply for parental leave.

To be eligible for parental leave, you must meet either the six or twelve-month criteria. Depending on how long you’ve been employed under the same employer will determine your entitlements under parental leave.

To find out what the difference is between six and twelve-month criteria, Employment NZ have created an easy-to-follow table. You can take a look at this here.

Other types of leave

There is a number of different types of leave that employees may be eligible to take under New Zealand employment law. This includes:

Stress leave – employees may be entitled to stress leave if they have work-related stress.

Garden leave – a term that refers to a situation where the employee retains employment, receives full pay but does not report to work.

Leave without pay – employees may be able to take leave without pay but it has to be agreed by their employer.

Jury service leave – employees may be entitled to jury service leave if they are called for jury duty. You can find more out about jury service leave on the Ministry of Justice website here.

Long service leave – long-term employees may be able to negotiate longer leave allocations with their employer.

Election voting leave – employees may be entitled to take leave when leaving the workplace to vote in the general elections.

Ultimately, New Zealand employment law highlights the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers with the aim of being as fair as possible to both parties.

When you secure employment in New Zealand, take some time to understand the employment laws and what you are entitled to and what is expected of you as an employee.

Your employment agreement is a very important document and should clearly outline the details specific to your role, as well as your rights as an employee. Be sure that you understand the information in your employment agreement before signing it.

If you are currently planning to immigrate to New Zealand, it pays to be as prepared as possible. With our online resources, we can help you understand what life will be like in New Zealand and how best to adjust to the new environment.

If you have any questions or concerns, we are always happy to help. You can contact New Kiwis here. We will not only help you in your job search, but we can also provide advice on the immigration process as a whole.