Hire in New Zealand
Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in New Zealand.
Currency of New Zealand
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
The Capital of New Zealand
Time Zone in New Zealand
Important Facts About the Country of New Zealand
Introduction to New Zealand
New Zealand is a small country with a big heart. It has a unique history, a vibrant culture and there’s so much to do – much of it outdoors in its famously beautiful natural scenery.
What to Know about New Zealand's Geography
New Zealand is an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It comprises two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island with around 600 smaller islands.
Climate in New Zealand
New Zealand generally enjoys a mild climate, with winds coming in from the coast. The temperature usually gets colder as you head south.
The Culture of New Zealand
New Zealand is a wealthy Pacific country dominated by two cultural groups: the New Zealanders of European descent and the Maori, who are the descendants of Polynesian settlers.
Religions Observed in New Zealand
- No religion: around half of the population
- Christianity: below two-fifths
- Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and other religious groups comprise the remainder
Languages Spoken in New Zealand
- English is spoken by 96.1% of the New Zealand population and is used in parliament, government, courts and the education system.
- Maori is used by New Zealand’s indigenous population. As per the Maori language Act 1987, it can be used for legal settings but proceedings are recorded in English.
New Zealand Human Resources at a Glance
Employment Law Protections in New Zealand
New Zealand’s laws are intended to help keep workplaces fair. New Zealand law applies equally to migrants, New Zealand citizens and residents. According to New Zealand employment law, employers and employees each have rights and responsibilities. Employers must treat employees fairly, pay them at least the minimum wage set by the government and meet their other employment law obligations. They must also make sure the workplace is safe. Employees must do their job competently and follow workplace health and safety rules. They must also stay within the provisions of their visa.
Employment Contracts in New Zealand
All employees must conclude a signed, written employment agreement with their employer. Even if employee has accepted a verbal offer for a job, he must sign a written agreement before he starts work. Employees can enter a collective employment agreement (negotiated by registered unions representing employees who are members of the union) or an employment contract.
A collective employment agreement is a document between an employer and their employees regarding employment conditions. Many large companies offer collective employment agreements that have been negotiated by a union. Employers must not unduly influence an employee’s decision whether to join or not join a union. A new employee who is a union member can legally agree to the terms and conditions of an existing collective employment agreement by signing an offer of employment. The collective agreement will apply even if they do not join the union. If the employee is covered by a collective employment agreement, they can also establish additional individual terms. These should be concluded in writing and signed by both the employer and employee.
An individual employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that establishes terms and conditions of employment. A contract must be in writing. Employment contracts cannot provide for less than the minimum legal entitlements set out in the various legislations governing employment in New Zealand. These include the Employment Relations Act 2000, Holiday Act 2003, Wages Protection Act 1983 and Minimum Wage Act 1983. among others)
If applicable, other employment conditions should be established, such as parental leave and employment protection, equal pay, health and safety at work aspect and protected disclosure.
New Zealand's Contract Terms
Contract terms cannot provide for less than the minimum legal entitlements outlined in the legislation and collective employment agreements that may apply. All contracts must be in writing.
New Zealand's Guidelines Regarding Probation Period/Trial Period
Probationary periods must be in the employment agreement and can be for any amount of time. During the probation period, employers must follow a fair process to give feedback, support and training throughout. Employers must also give a chance for the employee to improve. Employees may raise a personal grievance for dismissal if this process is not followed properly.
Employers with less than 20 employees can ask for a 90-day trial period from an employee, which needs to be written in the employment contract with a valid notice period. An employee cannot bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal or other legal proceedings about their dismissal as long as the employer has given the right amount of notice period (unless the trial period is deemed invalid by the Employment Relations Authority). Employers do not need to give reasons for dismissal.
A probationary period cannot be applied following a trial period.
Regulations and Rules Regarding Working Hours in New Zealand
The agreed number of work hours must be in the employment agreement. Working hours cannot be more than 40 hours per week (not including overtime) unless the employer and the employee agree otherwise.
New Zealand Laws Regarding Overtime
The hours agreed to in an employment agreement are generally the only hours that an employee needs to report to work. Many employees in New Zealand will receive payment if their employer asks them to work more than their normal hours.
The arrangement on overtime needs to be agreed to by the employer and the employee, whether this overtime is factored into the employee’s salary, paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay (at least the minimum wage rate or compensated at a higher rate of pay. The terms should be put into the employment agreement so that both parties are clear.
If the specific hours aren’t put into a written agreement, then an accurate and timely written record will need to be kept of exactly what hours the employee has worked.
Rules Regarding Bonus and 13th Month Pay in New Zealand
Bonuses are not required. However, many employers will offer bonuses as an incentive and for retention purposes. Bonuses differ based on industry and seniority.
Employers who want to dismiss an employee must:
1) act in good faith.
2) have a good reason for the dismissal.
3) follow a fair and reasonable process
4) have an open mind when dealing with problems so they ensure outcomes are not predetermined.
If the employer doesn’t follow above, the employee may be able to take a personal grievance claim against the employer. Reasons to dismiss an employee include:
- serious misconduct
- repeated misconduct
- performance issues
- during a trial period
There are general principles of fair process an employer must follow to justify serious misconduct, repeated misconduct and performance issues.
To terminate an employee’s employment, employers must give a written notice of the last employment day or remit a payment in lieu of notice. Serious misconduct warrants dismissal without notice. However, employers must still pay all outstanding entitlements. Disputes by both employers and employees can be referred to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
New Zealand's Requirements Regarding Notice Periods
When terminating an employee, a fair and reasonable notice must be given (except in case of serious misconduct). This notice must take into account the length of service, type of job, how long it will take to replace the employee and common practice in the workplace. If there is no notice period in the employment agreement then two to four weeks’ notice is often seen as fair, depending on the role. Employers can specify in employees’ collective employment agreements or employment contracts how much notice employees must give when they resign. Employers and employees can usually give notice in writing.
Just because an employment agreement contains a notice period doesn’t mean the employer can dismiss the employee for any reason as long as they give the appropriate notice. The employer must still have a good reason and must follow a fair process.
An employer and employee can agree the final pay will be made on the employee’s last day of work. Employees should, at the latest, get their final payment on the pay day for their final period of employment. The final pay must include payment for all the hours worked since the last pay until the end of employment, annual holidays, public and alternative holidays owing, as well as any additional lump sum or other payments owed. These can be included in the employment agreement or later negotiated as a component of a leaving package. Any authorized deductions can be taken from the final pay. If the employee provides the required notice, the employer must compensate the employee through the end of their notice period. If an employee gives less than agreed notice, the employer only pays up to the last working day. Employers may also deduct pay in lieu of notice from any amount already owed to the employee.
Redundancy/Severance Pay in New Zealand
There is no provision in New Zealand law for the suspension of an employment contract in cases of a plant closure or economic downturn. Unless there is a specific clause in an employment agreement giving a period of notice in a redundancy situation, ‘reasonable notice’ must be given. The length of ‘reasonable notice’ depends on a variety of conditions, such as:
- the reason for the redundancy
- the employee’s length of service
- the employee’s seniority and remuneration package
- custom, practice and industry norms
- the employee’s ability to find alternative employment
- the amount of compensation being paid (if any)
Employers cannot make someone redundant without undergoing the workplace change process first. The process of redundancy and the payment of redundancy compensation (where applicable) must be a last option. It should only occur once all redeployment options have been exhausted. The notice period must not be less than the length of notice prescribed in the employment agreement or workplace policies. If the employee agrees, an employer may give an extended notice period while they continue in their role or in a special project of some sort.
Whether employees receive redundancy payments is dependent on the applicable employment agreements and is a matter of negotiation between the parties. However, any employee whose employment is ending due to redundancy must be provided notice according to the terms of the employment agreement. An employer can require an employee to work through the end of their notice period. A redundancy payment is taxable income.
New Zealand Timesheets
According to the Fair Work Act, employers must keep time and wages records for six years. These need to be readily accessible to a Labor Inspector, legible and in English.
Trade Unions/Collective Agreements in New Zealand
Employees have total freedom over joining a union. It is illegal for employers to influence that decision. A trade union must have at least 15 members who are employees and must be organized for the purpose of supporting or advancing claims related to a proposed registered agreement. The largest trade union is the New Zealand Council of Trade Union (NZCTU or CTU), with 360,000 workers in this union.
Fixed Term Contacts for New Zealand Employees
Fixed-term contracts (FTC) are regulated in New Zealand. There are no statutory limitations on the maximum number of successive FTCs. However, according to the ERA, the employer must have genuine reasons (based on reasonable grounds) for resorting to fixed-term employment and must tell the employee when or how his or her employment will end and outline the reasons justifying it.
According to 66 of the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), an employee and an employer may agree that the employment of the employee will end:
(a) at the close of a specified date or period,
(b) on the occurrence of a specified event or
(c) at the conclusion of a specified project.
Sec. 66(3) ERA provides that the following reasons are not genuine reasons:
(a) to exclude or limit the rights of the employee under the ERA
(b) to establish the suitability of the employee for permanent employment
(c) to exclude or limit the rights of an employee under the Holidays Act 2003
Employees sometimes work in a triangular employment situation. This is where someone is employed by one employer but is working under another business or organization that tells them what they should do during their day-to-day work. The latter business or organization is the controlling third party. The arrangement is ‘triangular’ because there are three parties to the arrangement, with each party having separate relationships with one another. The three parties are: the employer, employee, and the third party.
The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Act 2019 came into force on 28 June 2020, addressing a gap in legislation in relation to employees in triangular employment situations (e.g. labor-for-hire). Employees are now able to apply to the ERA to add a ‘controlling third party’ (such as a ‘host’ employer in a labor hire arrangement) to a personal grievance claim. Employers can file an application to add a controlling third party to a personal grievance. The ERA will be able to divide responsibility for providing remedies between the responsible parties, reflecting the degree to which the employer and the controlling third party contribute to the personal grievance.
Tax and Social Security Information for Employers in New Zealand
Personal Income Tax in New Zealand
A tax resident of New Zealand refers to an individual who is in New Zealand for more than 183 days in any 12 month period or if one has a “permanent abode.” This means a dwelling place for one’s own use in New Zealand. The permanent abode test is not clear cut and has many other factors to consider and is also dependent on case law. New Zealand taxes its residents on income earned worldwide.
If an individual does not have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand and he or she is away from New Zealand for more than 325 days in any 12-month period, he or she can become a non-resident for tax purposes. Non-residents are taxed on income from employment services in New Zealand. A non-resident may be relieved from tax under a double tax agreement which New Zealand has with the country where one is a tax resident.
A transitional resident applies to new migrants or New Zealanders returning after at least 10 years and have never enjoyed the benefit of transitional status before. Transitional residents are exempt from tax on offshore investment income for four years to allow for strategic tax planning.
New Zealand does not enforce a capital gains tax. There is the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), which is payable by employers when a fringe benefit (non-cash benefit) is provided to an employee (or an associated person of the employee) because of his or her employment relationship with the employer. The value of fringe benefits provided is not included in the gross income of employees.
Social security is largely non-contributory in New Zealand. Officially, neither employers nor employees make contributions. Unemployment and sickness benefits are available to all New Zealanders and permanent residents irrespective of their employment history. However, there may be other eligibility criteria and means testing. They must contribute to the ACC scheme.
|Income Thresholds (NZ)||Tax Rate %|
|0 – 14,000||10.5|
|14,001 – 48,000||17.5|
|48,001 – 70,000||30|
|70,001 – 180,000||33|
Workers Compensation Insurance
The Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) is the provider of accident insurance for all work and non work injuries. Employers are required by law to provide insurance for all employees whether they are full time, part time or casual workers. The rate of the levy is given a discount where an employer has a history of no claims in any one of the three years. The amount averages 0.72% of an employer’s payroll or income earned (as of April 1, 2017). Rates vary depending on the industry. A levy for employees at 1.21% of income earned is collected in conjunction with tax deductions on income through PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) deductions.
Superannuation Contribution (kiwisaver)
The New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 governs the voluntary superannuation to all employees. The New Zealand KiwiSaver is not a compulsory scheme and employees can opt out. All employees are automatically enrolled and if they do not opt out, then both employer and employee are required to contribute.
The employer is required to pay 3% of an employee’s salary to their KiwiSaver account. The rate of superannuation anyone is entitled to depends on a number of factors like marital status, living status and whether the employee lives with other people.
In most cases, there are no supplemental benefits (other than bonuses) provided to the employees due to the fringe benefit taxes which they may attract. Employees do not normally expect to receive these. There is a $100 per month facility allowing employers to provide fringe benefits (such as subsidized transport or a contribution to a life insurance scheme) tax free to employees.
There is also the Employers Liability Insurance (EL), which is voluntary and does attract FBT. It is taken by employers and covers payment to employees if they are injured at work or become sick due to their work. It includes payments to employees to cover their wages while they’re not fit for work as well as medical expenses and rehabilitation. This concerns injuries incurred in the course of work that are not covered by the ACC.
*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged by GoGlobal will differ.
Important Information for New Zealand Employees
The employee’s salary can be paid on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Employers need to pay employees their final payment on the last day of work, unless agreed otherwise in writing.
Pay slips are not compulsory in New Zealand. Pay slips can be electronic or hardcopy, containing details of payments, deductions and superannuation contributions for each pay period.
- Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual holidays after 12 months of continuous employment. Employees who have worked less than one year are not entitled to any annual leave although employers may let them take some leave in advance. Employers can offer more annual leave than the minimum required by the National Employment Standards (NES).
- Employees can ask to cash out up to one week of their annual holidays each year.
- Annual leave accumulates in hours and from the first day of employment, including the probation period. Unused annual leave will roll over from year to year and is paid out upon termination of employment.
- All employees in New Zealand are required to use the GoGlobal leave tracking system. This enables us to determine leave accrued and latest leave balance, timely and accurately, so that employees are updated on their leave entitlements.
- Sick leave allows employees to take time off leave to care for a sick or injured spouse, partner, dependent child or any other dependent individual.
- This type of leave is funded by the employer. Access to sick leave applies after 6 months of continuous employment with the current employer, and an employee is entitled to 10 days of paid leave per year.
- Employers may request proof if an employee is sick for three or more consecutive days but the employer must agree to pay for the doctor’s fee.
- Any leave unused can, by way of the employment contract, be carried forward to the next year with the maximum capped at 20 days or more if the employer so chooses.
Compassionate & Bereavement Leave
- All employees are entitled to three days’ paid compassionate leave (bereavement leave) and can be taken if their partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or their partner’s parent dies. The entitlement is available after the employee has been working continuously for six months and is entitled every 12 months.
- Employees are also entitled to one day upon the death of a person outside their immediate family (depending on the circumstance).
- Employees can take the leave days in advance if mutually agreed to by the employee and the employer.
- Employers can request evidence such as a funeral notice, death notice or statutory declaration.
Family & Domestic Violence Leave
- Owing to the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act, employees have a statutory right to 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave each year after working for six continuous months. This applies to violent, threatening or other abusive behavior by a close relative that aims to control an employee and causes harm or fear. It does not matter when the events of domestic violence took place. Employees have the right to this leave, even if events occurred before they began working for their current employer.
- Employees can ask for short-term flexible working arrangements which can be up to two months.
Maternity & Parental Leave
- Parental leave can be taken when an employee gives birth, an employee’s spouse or de facto partner gives birth or when an employee adopts a child under six years of age.
- An employee who has worked for an employer for at least an average of 10 hours a week for 12 months or more just before the expected birth of the child (or the date they will take over the care of the child) is entitled to 26 weeks of government-funded paid parental leave and a further 26 weeks extended leave.
- Employees who have been working 10 hours a week for six months or more by the time of the baby’s expected delivery or adoption day are entitled to 26 weeks unpaid parental leave and 26 weeks of government-funded paid parental leave.
- Working dads and partners (including same-sex partners) are entitled to one week if they have worked at least an average of 10 hours a week for six months and two weeks of unpaid leave if they have worked at least an average of 10 hours a week for 12 months.
- Pregnant employees can also take 10 days of unpaid special leave for obligations like doctor’s appointments and antenatal classes. This can be taken before taking primary carer leave.
- Each employee can enjoy a maximum of 11 public holidays a year.
- Employees enjoy a paid day off on public holidays if it’s an otherwise working day for them. If they work on a public holiday, they are paid time and a half and may enjoy an alternative day off.
- An employee is entitled to a public holiday only if the public holiday falls on a day the employee would otherwise have worked (if the day hadn’t been a public holiday).
- Some public holidays will be ‘Mondayized’ (or ‘Tuesdayized’) if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday (if those days were not days that an employee would otherwise work).
- If an employee must work on a public holiday, an alternative holiday gives them a day off at another time. Sometimes these alternative holidays are called ‘lieu days’ or ‘days off in lieu’ but those terms can also refer to other types of leave. It is recommended to label alternative holidays by their correct name.
- If an employee is ‘on call’ on a public holiday and their activities had to be limited as a result, they are entitled to a full day’s paid alternate holiday regardless of whether the employee had to end up working that day.
Community Service Leave
- Employees can take leave for voluntary emergency management activities and jury service, including attendance for jury selection and defense force volunteer work.
- Community service leave, such as jury service, is unpaid. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave employees can take but employers can apply for the employee to be excused from such duties due to special commitments at the workplace.
- Employers do not have to pay employees while they do jury service but many choose to ‘top up’ the money the employee gets from the Ministry of Justice so they receive their normal pay.
Flexible Working Arrangement
Under part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000, all employees are entitled to request a variation of their working arrangements at any time. Employers have an obligation to respond to requests as soon as possible and not later than one month after receiving the request. There is a limited, but broad, number of reasons employers can decline a request (e.g. an inability to recruit additional staff or to reorganize work).
“Flexible work” covers a wide range of arrangements outside the traditional working week. It can be tailored to suit each employee’s needs. Common examples include:
- working a different number of hours (e.g., part-time)
- working within different time frames (e.g., starting and finishing early)
- working remotely
- purchasing additional leave
- taking additional unpaid leave
Other Types of Leave
Other types of leave include garden leave, long service leave, voting leave, jury service, defense forces leave and leave options for workplace stress or following a natural disaster.
Benefits to the Employee in New Zealand
The overtime rate can be different for each employment contract. Employees should be aware of their overtime rate to ensure they are being paid correctly. Some employers allow employees to take paid time off instead of receiving overtime pay.
New Zealand Statutory Benefits
New Zealand employment law applies equally to migrants and New Zealand citizens and residents.
Eligibility rules for joining KiwiSaver state individuals must be citizens of New Zealand or Australia citizens or hold a residence visa for either of these countries. They must also live (or normally live) in New Zealand and be below the age of eligibility for NZ Super (currently 65).
An individual cannot join KiwiSaver if he or she has a temporary, visitor, work or student visa. Australian citizens can join KiwiSaver.
The minimum leave entitlement is four weeks’ paid leave following 12 months of continuous employment with an employer. An employment contract can provide other leave entitlements. However, they cannot be less than what the minimum stated by the law. Statutory leave includes, but is not limited to, annual leave, sick leave, bereavement leave and public holidays. There are no mandatory statutory benefits other than leave entitlements in NZ.
Employers providing fringe benefits to employees must pay a tax on the value of those benefits known as the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Laptops and mobile phones for business uses are exempt from fringe benefits tax.
Examples of taxable fringe benefits are:
- Using a work car for private purposes
- Gym membership
- Discounted loan
- Entertainment (such as tickets to concerts)
- Medical insurance
Expatriates – Accommodation
Renting and purchasing accommodation in New Zealand is overall a very straightforward and safe process. Buying a house in New Zealand is so simple it may even take just a matter of weeks.
It may be challenging finding furnished rentals. That is because most furnished options on the market are studios or one-bedroom places and are typically taken by students.
Paying weekly rent is common in New Zealand. Tenants will have to pay for all the expenses that result from living in the accommodation unless agreed otherwise with the landlord.
There are two categories of tenancies in New Zealand:
- Fixed-term tenancy: This is the typical rental contract with a fixed start and end date.
- Periodic tenancy: This is a flexible agreement that ends when either the tenant or the landlord decides to give notice.
Once the fixed-term ends, the tenancy becomes periodic. As stated above, the periodic tenancy has no end date. Usually, tenants must give 21 days’ notice in writing while the landlord is expected to give a 90 days’ notice if they wish to terminate the tenancy. It is also possible to arrange a short fixed-term tenancy for a 90-day period or less. This type of tenancy will not become periodic once it ends.
New Zealand lacks an established nationwide transportation system. Hence, exploring the country via bus or train is nearly impossible. The trains that are available are slow, infrequent and expensive.
Rules Regarding Visas and Foreign Workers in New Zealand
Foreigners and expatriates who wish to live and work legally in New Zealand are required to obtain a valid visa issued by the Department of Immigration. There are several categories of work visas for different professions, including investors, experienced business people, skilled professionals, specialized workers and short-term trainees. For foreign companies looking to expand into New Zealand, their employees will most likely fit the skilled-professionals category and can apply for any of the following schemes:
Essentials Skills Work Visa
The Essential Skills Work visa is intended for skilled workers whose job is included on the Essential Skills in Demand List. It allows individuals to work in the country for up to five years but the duration may depend on their skill level. For a foreigner to fill a job position with this visa, the employer must prove they are unable to hire a New Zealander.
Specific Purpose Work Visa
An individual can apply for a Specific Purpose Work Visa if he or she is coming to New Zealand for a specific purpose or event.
Supplementary Seasonal Visa
Supplementary Seasonal Employers can hire temporary visa holders (already in New Zealand) to plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops if there are not enough New Zealanders available to perform the work.
Long Term Skills Shortage Visa
This applies when an individual’s qualifications, skills and experience fall into one of five categories defined by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).
Temporary Work Visa
The Temporary Work Visa can be obtained by those who have a confirmed job offer from a New Zealand employer and are visiting New Zealand for an event or for a specified purpose with the intent to accumulate work experience, join a business partner in New Zealand and continue professional and business duties.
Every work visa has its own requirements, with some based on an immigration point system. Employees may need different visas, depending on the type of work and the assignment period. The general requirements include:
- The individual must meet health and character requirements.
- The individual must demonstrate competent English.
- If the intended visa is subject to a points scale, a simulation can typically be found on the immigration website that allows an individual to test if he or she meets the required points to apply. Keep in mind that only an immigration officer can award points during the assessment of a visa.
- It is important to note that all work visas in New Zealand are considered temporary, including the specific visas that can lead to a permanent residence. When talking about a temporary work visa in New Zealand, these types of visas are not geared towards getting permanent residence.
Getting a Tax Number
Once the visa has been granted, the employee should get a tax file number (IRD number). This is a personal reference number in the New Zealand tax system.
Public Holidays Recognized by New Zealand in 2023
|1||New Year’s Day||01.Jan.2023|
|2||Day after New Year’s Day||02.Jan.2023|
|3||New Year Holiday||03.Jan.2023|
|4||Wellington Anniversary Day||23.Jan.2023|
|5||Auckland Anniversary Day||30.Jan.2023|