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Employment Terms and Conditions

New Zealand - Employment Terms and Conditions

All employees are entitled to have a written agreement with their new employer. This can be a collective agreement or an individual agreement. The collective agreement will already have been negotiated with a union and therefore considered to be fair. It is up to the employee if they join the union or not and cannot be influenced by the employer. Employees are entitled to have a copy of the employment agreement. The employer is obliged to include certain conditions within the agreement and also follow some conditions of employment even if they are not mentioned within the agreement.

If the employee is negotiating an individual agreement then they are entitled to take independent advice. The employer should give the employee plenty of time and opportunity to seek the relevant advice and respond appropriately to any issues that the employee has raised with them. The agreement should include the full details of both the employee and the employer, a full description of the work that is involved, details of the place of work and the hours that the employee is expected to work, details of the rate of pay, information on the support provided for problems in the workplace, overtime provisions, details of the protection in place if the employer decides to sell the business or contract the work elsewhere, details on how to proceed with grievances and any other information discussed with the employee such as a trial period.

When an employee joins a company with a collective agreement but does not want to join a union they are entitled to negotiate an individual agreement but one that is based on the collective agreement. The collective agreement will be in place for the first 30 days of employment then an individual agreement should be in place.

An employee can be placed on a trial period of 90 days. These trial periods are voluntary on the part of the employee and details should be in writing as part of the agreement. If the employee has worked for the same employer on a previous occasion there cannot be a trial period. During a trial period a worker can be dismissed without fear of a grievance being raised against the employer for unfair dismissal, although they could be entitled to claim for discrimination or harassment. Mediation services should be available to resolve any issues. A trial period means that the employee is still entitled to minimum pay, annual leave, equal pay and public holidays as for other employees.

Workers are entitled to a number of rest and meal breaks during their shift. If working between 2 and 4 hours the worker can take a break of 10 minutes (paid). For a shift of between 4 and 6 hours there is an entitlement of a 10 minute paid break and an unpaid break of 30 minutes. If the shift is between 6 and 8 hours there is an entitlement of 2 x 10 minute paid rest breaks and a 30 minute unpaid meal break. If more hours are worked then more breaks are added.

The employer is obliged to keep accurate records of wages and leave which include full details of the employee, the work that they do and details of the agreement in place. Leave records should also cover sick leave and compassionate leave as well as annual leave. All employees are entitled for 4 weeks paid annual leave each year (20 days). Public holidays are extra leave but if a person is required to work then they should be paid extra for that day or given a day in lieu. Arrangements for sick leave and compassionate leave are between the employee and the employer but the law requires that the employer have a reasonable system in place for supporting employees at such times. There are 11 days public holiday in New Zealand each year.

Working hours vary in the country but most workers work 8 hours a day with some professions offering shift patterns of 12 hours. Working hours are not standard and should be set out in the agreement.

If you wish to terminate your employment the amount of notice that you need to give will be stated in your employment agreement. For most workers this is a period of one month, although if you are in a temporary position or on a trial period this could be just a week.

For those who leave to have a baby there is a period of 14 weeks of paid leave. An expectant mother can begin maternity leave 6 weeks before the due date. There is currently no paid paternity leave but a one week unpaid leave can be taken if needed if the worker has been in their current position for 6 months or more and 2 weeks if they have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. It is also possible for workers to take a period of 1 year’s unpaid sabbatical for a new baby if they have met the requirements laid out by the employer.

There is no age set for compulsory retirement in New Zealand although most workers aim to retire by the time that they are 65. There are voluntary occupational schemes with some companies in New Zealand known as superannuation and workers also have the facility to take out a ‘kiwisaver’ scheme. State pension schemes are not normally paid out before the worker is 65.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.