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Key Country Facts

Currency: New Zealand Dollar

Time zone: GMT +12

Capital city: Wellington

Official language:

  • English is spoken by 96.1% of the population and is used in parliament, government, courts and education system.
  • Maori is used by the natives. Under Maori language Act 1987, it can be used for legal settings, but proceedings are recorded in English.

Employment Contracts

New Zealand has laws that help keep workplaces fair. New Zealand law applied equally to migrants and New Zealand citizens and residents.

All employees must have a signed, written employment agreement with their employer. Even if employee has accepted a verbal offer for a job, he/she must sign a written agreement before he/she 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 employees to join or not join a union.

An individual employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that sets out terms and conditions of employment. Employment contracts cannot provide for less than the minimum legal entitlements set out in the various legislations governing employment in New Zealand (which includes the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Holiday Act 2003, the Wages Protection Act 1983, and the Minimum Wage Act 1983 among others).

New Zealand Holidays

There are 10 public holidays in New Zealand:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Day after New Year’s Day – January 2
  • Waitangi Day – February 6
  • Good Friday – April 2
  • Easter Monday – April 5
  • Anzac Day – April 25
  • Queen’s Birthday – June 7
  • Labour Day – October 25
  • Christmas Day – December 25
  • Boxing Day – December 26

The list above is New Zealand’s public holidays. Each region has different public holidays.

Vacation

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-up 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 on termination of employment.

Sick Leave

Sick leave allow employees to take time off leave to care for a sick or injured spouse, partner, dependent child or any other dependent individual and 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 a year from July 24, 2021.
Employer may request proof if 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 be carried forward to the next year with the maximum capped at 20 days or more if the employer so chooses by way of the employment contract.

Maternity/Paternity 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 6 years of age.
The 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’ll 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 6 months or more by the time of the baby’s expected delivery/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 1 week if they have worked at least an average of 10 hours a week for 6 months and 2 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 things like doctor’s appointments and antenatal classes, before taking primary carer leave.

Termination/Severance

Employers who want to dismiss an employee must: 1) act in good faith; 2) have a good reason; 3) follow a fair and reasonable process; and 4) have an open mind when dealing with problems so they ensure outcomes are not pre-determined.

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: (i) serious misconduct; (ii) repeated misconduct; (iii) performance issues; (iv) during a trial period; (v) redundancy; (vi) incompatibility; and (vii) incapacity. There are general principles of fair process that employer must follow to justify (iii) and (i) and (ii).

To terminate an employee’s employment, employers must give a written notice of the last employment day or payment in lieu of notice. Serious misconduct warrants dismissal without notice. However, employers do have to pay all outstanding entitlements. Disputes by both employers and employees can be referred to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Bonus

Bonuses are not required. However, many employers will offer bonus as an incentive and for retention purpose. Bonus differ based on industry and seniority.

New Zealand Social Security

Social security is largely non-contributory in New Zealand, and officially neither employers not employees make contributions. Unemployment and sickness benefits are available to all New Zealanders and permanent residents irrespective of their employment history, although there may be other eligibility criteria and means testing. They must, however, make contributions to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme.

This information does not constitute legal advice.

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