Although there is no minimum code as such in New Zealand Employment Law, there are certain rights that all New Zealand employers must honour in relation to their employees.
There are several pieces of New Zealand legislation that grant minimum rights to employees. These include:
- Written Agreement: All full time employees must have a written employment agreement and the employer must retain a signed copy of the agreement.
- Minimum wage: As of 1 April 2011, the minimum wage for all employees aged 16 or over who are not new entrants or trainees is $13.00 per hour. For new entrants and trainees aged 16 and 17 the minimum wage is $10.00 per hour.
- Equal Pay: Under the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960, men and women are entitled to equal pay for the same or substantially similar work.
- Annual Leave: Under the Holidays Act 2003, employees are entitled to 4 weeks’ annual leave per year. Employees can ask to cash-up up to one week of their annual holidays each year.
- Paid public holidays: Under the Holidays Act 2003 employees are entitled to 11 specified public holidays leave (if the employee would normally work on the day on which the relevant holiday falls in any particular year).
- Sick Leave: After six months’ employment with an employer, most employees become entitled to five days’ paid sick leave per year, which can be taken in the event of sickness or injury to yourself, your partner or another person dependent on you for care. Unused sick leave can accumulate up to 15 days, so that at any
one time it is possible to have as many as 20 days sick leave available.
- Bereavement leave: Most employees are entitled to three days bereavement leave on the death of a spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or your spouse’s parent or one day if your employer accepts that you’ve suffered bereavement on the death of any other person.
- Parental Leave: If you have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours per week for either the immediately preceding six or 12 months before the expected due date or adoption of a child you may be eligible for up to 52 weeks’ parental leave under the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.
- Breaks: Employees are entitled to one ten minute paid rest break when you work between two and four hours and one ten minute paid rest break and one unpaid thirty minute meal break when you work more than four hours and up to 6 hours. When you work for more than six hours and up to eight hours, you are entitled to two ten minute paid rest breaks and one unpaid thirty minute meal break.
- Payment of wages in money and without deduction: Unless the employee has agreed in writing to deductions being made, under the Wages Protection Act 1983 payment of wages must be made without deduction.
- Freedom from discrimination: Employees are entitled to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, age, union membership, disability, sexual orientation, political opinion, employment status and having organisms in the body capable of causing illness.
- Health and Safety: Employees are entitled to adequate health and safety standards in the workplace.
- Free Assistance: Employees are entitled to free assistance (mediation) to resolve any employment problems.
Employees can negotiate for better conditions but cannot be subject to worse conditions than these minimum rights.