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Employment: Five key rights and rules

If you are an employer or a worker, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities. Not only is this a great foundation for an employment relationship, it’s the law.

Get up to speed on fair pay rates, leave allowances and employment agreements with these tips — and sign up for free online training from Employment New Zealand.

What workers must get

Choosing the correct arrangements for each worker is the start of a healthy working relationship. But if you get it wrong, it can hurt your business — not to mention your employees. Labour inspectors have increased powers to check if workers are getting the right pay, leave, and other legal requirements.

To help employers and employees know what they can and can’t do, Employment New Zealand offers free online courses covering employment basics and minimum rights. There are six modules for employers, and six for employees, covering the same topics.

Here we’ve paired key rules and rights with the relevant online training.

Rule 1: Employment agreement

Every employee must have a written employment agreement.

This means…
Creating an employment agreement with at least all mandatory clauses, including:

  • pay
  • hours of work
  • where the employee will work.

Online training that can help

These training modules cover the essential details your contracts must — and must not — include.

Rule 2: Right conditions for each employee type

Employers must identify the employee type — permanent, fixed term or casual — and offer the correct terms of employment.

This means…
Understanding the difference between staff types and the rules for each type, eg for paid holidays and sick leave.

Online training that can help

These training modules cover:

  • different staff types
  • minimum employment standards for each
  • how to legally use trial periods.

Rule 3: Fair pay rates

There are minimum pay rates for workers aged 16 and older. You can pay more, but you can’t pay less.

This means…
Checking minimum pay rates and updating your payroll, either due to annual rises or when an employee is eligible for a new rate.

You must also have fair pay policies and practices.

Online training that can help

These training modules cover:

  • different minimum wage rates
  • how to keep accurate pay records
  • when you can legally deduct money from workers’ pay.

Rule 4: Paid time off work

Employees must get at least the legal minimum for paid leave, eg for holidays or when they are sick.

This means…
Giving all eligible employees at least:

  • four weeks’ annual leave a year
  • five days’ sick leave a year
  • a paid day off on a public holiday if they would normally work that day.

You must also give bereavement leave and parental leave when needed.

Online training that can help

These training modules cover:

  • different rules for different types of leave
  • how to calculate holiday pay
  • how to keep proper records of hours worked, pay and leave.

Rule 5: Working hours

Employers and employees must agree hours of work, and note these in a written employment agreement.

This means…
Checking employment agreements include hours of work, eg days of the week and start/finish times. You must make sure these are followed.

Remember, so-called zero-hour contracts are illegal. You must give all employees at least some guaranteed hours of work.

Online training that can help

These training modules cover:

  • minimum standards
  • how to legally change an employee’s hours if needed
  • rules for employees aged under 16.
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