You must have a written employment agreement (also known as an employment contract) for all employees — though you don’t need them for contractors or volunteers.
A written employment agreement is a legal requirement, and it's a great foundation for an employment relationship. It helps you and your employee be clear on:
It’s the place you can include all the details on what’s expected. Both you and your employee can refer back to it if there is any disagreement on how well they are performing their role.
If a collective agreement covers your workplace, your new employee must get the same terms as the collective agreement — or better terms — for the first 30 days of employment.
After 30 days, if the employee hasn’t joined the union, the employer and employee can agree to make changes or sign a new individual agreement.
Our new Employment Agreement Builder helps you create contracts tailored to your business and to each person you employ. It’s packed with tips to help you decide what to put in your agreement — and what NOT to put in. It covers what you must do by law, and also sets out common mistakes made by employers and how to avoid them.
An individual employment agreement is a contract between an employer and an individual staff member. The details of the contract only apply to that employee.
Collective employment agreements cover similar points to individual agreements, but the terms are agreed between an employer and a union representing a group of employees. Everyone who’s a member of that union will have the same agreement, usually with a pay scale for different jobs or different levels within jobs.
Find out what you know about hiring and managing people.
For all types of employment agreements, you must:
Jon, a science teacher, is offered a permanent job at an area school near Cromwell. He tells the acting principal he’d like to look over the collective agreement before signing his letter of offer. The principal agrees.
Jon asks his union, the Post Primary Teachers’ Association, to go through the collective agreement and letter of offer with him. They immediately notice it’s out of date — a new collective agreement is in place. Jon tells the principal why he won’t sign the letter of offer and points out the salary increments have gone up.
The principal apologises and gives Jon the correct agreement. Jon signs the letter of offer and both Jon and the principal are happy that the union helped spot the mistake and avoid future problems.
You must allow your employees:
If there's a collective agreement in place at your business, you must:
Employment agreements (external link) - Employment New Zealand
Collective agreements (external link) - Employment New Zealand
There are clauses you must include, and others you can include if relevant or useful to your business and/or the role.
An employment agreement must include:
Changes to employment law mean employers can no longer offer zero-hours contracts. Read about Hours of work (external link) on the Employment New Zealand website.
If shifts may be cancelled or cut short, this must now be specified in your employment agreements, along with details on how much notice will be given and what compensation will be offered. The shift cancellation clause (external link) in our Employment Agreement Builder has tips on how to work out what reasonable notice and reasonable compensation means for your business.
You don’t have to include legal entitlements, like four weeks’ annual leave or rest and meal breaks, unless you’re offering more than the minimum. But including them makes it clear for your employee.
These must include a clause setting out the length of the term, the reason for the fixed term, and a detailed reason for the fixed term ending at the specified date or event. If you leave these out, the fixed term might be ruled invalid — and your employee will become permanent.
Read more about hiring fixed-term employees, including examples of what to put in the employer agreement.
Rules on rest and meal breaks (external link) - Employment New Zealand
If you’re employing someone on a casual basis, the hours of work clause should say they’re employed on an “ as required” basis and can agree to work if asked, but they don't have to. You can offer a minimum number of hours for each work session, but you don’t have to.
These set out additional terms, conditions or benefits that apply to your business or the person you’re hiring, including:
Choose carefully — some optional clauses are only relevant for certain industries or employee types. Our new Employment Agreement Builder (external link) will help you decide which to put in and which to leave out.
Hiring casual employees - tips and advice