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Employee Rights in New Zealand

General Employee Rights in New Zealand

Employment agreement

Employers must give New Zealand employees a written employment agreement that they have agreed upon and signed before starting work. The following clauses are mandatory and should appear in every contract:

  • Employee and employer name
  • Description of work to be performed
  • Work hours, days and start and finish times
  • Place of work
  • Remuneration
  • Benefits
  • Work-related problem resolution process
  • An employment protection provision if the employer sells or transfers the business, or if the employee's work is contracted out

Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are not common in New Zealand.


It is not mandatory to provide payslips in New Zealand, but employees have the right to see information about how their employer has worked out wages and see the time records relating to their hours of work. Employees also have the right to request information about their annual leave and sick leave entitlement.

Health & Safety

Employees are entitled to work in environments where their health and safety risks are properly controlled and where they have access to adequate facilities. These include toilets, washing facilities and first aid. Employees should have sufficient training, information and support on how to do their job safely, must contribute to health and safety decisions, are required to have personal protective equipment (PPE) and are entitled to a Health and Safety Representative or Committee.

Flexible working

Employees can request at any time and for any reason to change their hours, days or place of work. The right to flexible work also extends to how work is done, how it's started, finished and managed in the workplace to help employees and businesses. After an employee has requested flexible work, the employer has one month to reply in writing and doesn't have to agree with the request if there is a good business reason for declining.

Flexible work arrangements include reduced or increased hours, flexible hours, job-sharing, working remotely and paid study leave.

Employee Protections in New Zealand

Protection from discrimination, bullying & harassment

All people are protected from unlawful discrimination in their employment. This includes age, race or colour, ethnicity or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religious or ethical belief, marital or family status, employment status, political opinion, being affected by domestic violence.

Bullying is seen as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards employees, including physical, verbal or relational/social acts such as excluding someone or spreading rumours. It may include victimising, humiliating, intimidating, or threatening an individual. It is not a one-off incident of unreasonable behaviour or occasional instances of rudeness or misjudgment.

Harassment is any unwanted or unjustified behaviour which an individual finds offensive or humiliating, including sexual or racial harassment. Its seriousness or repetition harms their employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.

Whistleblower protection

Whistleblowers have legal protection unless the information they are disclosing is protected by legal professional privilege. Their identity will be kept confidential unless disclosure is essential to:

  • The effective investigation of the allegations
  • Preventing severe risk to public health or safety or the environment
  • Comply with the principles of natural justice

An employee who suffers retaliatory action by their employer for their protected disclosure can make a claim under the Employment Relations Act.

Under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to treat acting or potential whistleblowers less favourably than others. Several legal remedies under the Human Rights Act may be available to whistleblowers.

Pay and employment equity protection

Regardless of their gender, race, colour, nationality and age, employees are entitled to equal pay for doing the same work or doing work of equal value. Work value is assessed in terms of skills, knowledge, responsibility, effort, and working conditions.

Personal information protection

The Privacy Act stipulates that the following employee data must be protected and respected:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Other individual identifiers

Data that is public knowledge can be stored in open databases. Employers should collect only relevant and accurate personal information, keep it secure and use it for limited purposes. Employers shouldn't keep personal data for longer than necessary.

Required Employee Benefits in New Zealand

Unemployment funds

Unemployment benefits are provided by the government and are available to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who become unemployed. To qualify, the person must be unemployed, over 18, actively looking for a new job and have lived continuously in the country for at least two years. Jobseeker Support is a weekly payment up to NZ$607.00 gross. The amount depends on age, family status, number of dependents, and other personal circumstances.

Job Security in New Zealand


Employees have the right to join a union or not, and employers cannot influence their decision.

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