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Employment laws and regulations

Employment laws in New Zealand help to build positive working environments. Wellingtonians pride themselves in being fair and respectful employers.

Being a good employer

Employer relationships are based on “good faith”, meaning that we endeavour to treat each other the way that we would like to be treated. Communication between employers and their staff is done honestly, openly and with mutual respect. You’ll find that our supportive and cooperative structures, promoting constructive communication, help to increase productivity and satisfaction in the workplace.

Three month trial periods for new employees

In most cases, when you offer an employment contract to a new employee this will include a 90 day trial period. This is common practice in New Zealand, however, it is voluntary and must be agreed to in writing and negotiated in good faith as part of the employment agreement.

Minimum wage

The current adult minimum wage rate (before tax) that applies to employees aged 16 or over is $15.75 an hour (April 2017). The minimum wage rates are reviewed every year.


PAYE (Pay as You Earn) is the income tax taken out of an employee’s wage when they are paid. PAYE also includes an ACC Earners’ Levy. The ACC Earner’s Levy ensures that if an employee is injured in an accident, they’ll get access to the treatment and financial support needed to recover and get back to normal life as quickly as possible. This means you don't have to provide or pay for health insurance for your employees.

New Zealand’s saving scheme: KiwiSaver

Superannuation isn't compulsory in New Zealand. If employees would like to invest in their retirement, they can ‘opt-in’ to KiwiSaver, New Zealand's principal and voluntary retirement savings scheme.

Employees who opt-in are required to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of their gross salary or wage to their KiwiSaver account. Employers are required to contribute 3%. The Government also pays a $1,000 kick-start into each person’s Kiwisaver account and an annual member tax credit.

Employee leave

Meal breaks

All employees are entitled to rest and meal breaks to give them a chance to rest, refresh, and take care of personal matters during their work period. There are no set rules for how long, or when, rest and meal breaks should be taken. Employers and employees should negotiate in good faith over the timing and length of meal breaks. 

It’s common for employees to take 10-15 (paid) minute rest breaks and a 30 (unpaid) minute meal break, but these times vary across different professions and industries.

New Zealand’s work unions

In New Zealand, employees have the right to decide whether or not they would like to join a union and, if so, which union. It is illegal for an employer (or anyone else) to put pressure on an employee to join or not join a union. Find out more about New Zealand’s Unions.

Contact us for more information.