Your basic rights as an employee

There are minimum rights and entitlements set out in law, which apply to ALL employees, whether it is written in your employment agreement or not.  Your employment agreement cannot trade off or provide for less than these minimums.

The law protects you at work by

Your employer must:

One of the main principles of the law on employment is called “good faith”. This means that employers, employees and unions must deal with one another honestly and openly.

Minimum terms and conditions vs negotiable terms and conditions

All employees, regardless of the type of work they perform or whether they are full time, part time or casual, are entitled to an employment agreement in writing.  These may be either individual or collective employment agreements.  Click here for more info about the differences and which you may be covered under.  If you are covered by an individual employment agreement, your employer must keep a copy of your signed employment agreement on file, and provide you with a copy of this upon your request.

There are minimum terms and conditions which are provided by law, and which an employer must provide an employee, even if it is not written in an employment agreement.  Your employment agreement cannot trade off or do away with any of these minimum entitlements.

The following table sets out some common minimum entitlements, and lists some things which are negotiable (i.e. the employer does not have to provide them, and if they do, then the conditions may be agreed to).

Minimum Negotiable
4 weeks paid annual holiday Extra annual holidays above 4 weeks
11 public holidays Extra public holidays
Payment of time and a half for working public holidays Greater payment rates for working public holidays
5 days paid sick leave per annum after first six months More than five days paid sick leave, with no qualifying time
3 days paid bereavement leave for certain family members, 1 day for other people More than 3 days paid bereavement leave
Up to 52 weeks parental leave Greater parental leave entitlements
10 minute rest and 30 minute meal breaks Timing of rest and meal breaks, and whether these are paid
Minimum wage Wages and salary rates above the minimum wage
  Overtime payments
 

Hours of work
  How much notice of termination should be given
  Number of warnings that may be given in a disciplinary process
  Frequency of paydays
  Payment while being away on jury service
  Long service leave
   

For a full list of minimum entitlements:
http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/minimumrights/index.asp