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Frequently Asked Questions

My Rights At Work
Migrant Workers
The Union

It's important that all workers in NZ know their employment rights. Employers may not tell you what your rights are, or may lie to you about what you are or are not allowed. Always check with your union if you have any questions about rights - we are experts in this area! This government site is an excellent resource about worker rights.

My Rights at Work

What's the NZ Minimum Wage?

The adult minimum wage in NZ is currently $22.70/hour, or $908 for a 40 hour week.

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What breaks should I get?

If you work between 2-4 hours: 1x10 minute paid break

If you work between 4-6 hours: 1x10 minute paid break and 1x30 minute unpaid break

If you work between 6-8 hours: 2x10 minute paid breaks and 1x30 minute unpaid break

If you work between 10-12 hours: 3x10 minute paid breaks and 1x30 minute unpaid break

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Can I say no to extra work?

Employment agreements must fix the maximum number of hours to be worked by the employee at no more than 40 per week (not including overtime) unless the employer and employee agree otherwise.

If an employment agreement doesn’t have a valid availability clause that provides reasonable compensation, then an employee can say “no” to work that isn’t part of any guaranteed hours in their employment agreement. 

An employer can’t disadvantage an employee if they turn down the work. This means that an employer can’t:

  • refuse or not offer the same employment terms, work conditions, fringe benefits, and training, promotion and transfer opportunities, as other employees with more or less the same qualifications, experience and skills employed in the same or very similar circumstances, or

  • dismiss or do anything to an employee that has a negative effect on the employment, job performance or job satisfaction, when other employees employed to do the same type of work aren’t treated the same.

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When can I go on strike?

Employees can only legally strike for health and safety reasons or in relation to collective bargaining if they will be bound by the collective agreement being bargained for. 

Employers can’t discriminate against employees for taking part in a lawful strike.

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Can my employer reduce my hours?

If an employment agreement has the employee's hours of work, then an employer can’t change them without the employee's agreement. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, the employer still has to act fairly and reasonably before they do.

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How much sick leave should I get?

All employees (including part-time and casual employees) are entitled to 10 days' sick leave per year if:

  • they have six months’ current continuous employment with the same employer, or

  • they have worked for the employer for six months for:

    • an average of 10 hours per week, and

    • at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

Your employment agreement may grant you more sick leave than this minimum.​

An employer cannot force an employee to have a medical examination.

An employer may request proof that an employee is sick once they have been sick for three or more consecutive days. In some circumstances, an employer can request proof of illness or injury within three consecutive calendar days, but the employer must agree to pay for the doctor’s fees.

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How many holidays should I get?

All employees, regardless of their classification (ie including part time, full time, fixed term and 'casual') but not including the Armed Forces, are entitled to at least:

  • four weeks of paid annual holidays (sometimes referred to as annual leave) after each 12 months of continuous employment for their employer, for rest and recreation. (Some employees, who meet specific criteria may agree in their employment agreement to be paid annual holidays on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis)

  • up to 11 public holidays each year, (if they are days they would otherwise work). These are days of national, religious, or cultural significance, and employees should be able to take them as leave, where possible

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Migrant Workers

Can I join a union if I'm not a NZ citizen?

If you can legally work in NZ, you can and should join a union.

Unite union represents large numbers of non-resident workers on working holiday visas, visa sponsorship, and accredited work visas. We also advocate for a pathway to residency for all workers in NZ.

Who can give me advice about Immigration or work visas?

Only people who are licensed can provide advice on New Zealand immigration matters, unless they are exempt under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. People who are exempt include New Zealand lawyers and Citizens Advice Bureau staff.

The Union

Will Unite union help if I'm not a member?

Unite is a membership organisation and Unite is funded by low wage workers chipping in a few dollars each week. We don’t receive any government funding and are not a charity.

During the Fair Pay Agreement process all hospitality employers were legally required to provide us with contact details for all of their workers (except those who opted out). We then contacted all of those workers with Fair Pay Agreement information, invited them to meetings and webinars, and gave the option to join Unite.

If a hospo worker has been given the option to join Unite but has chosen not to, then we are not obliged to provided any assistance or support. In some rare cases we may choose to do so at the discretion of the National Secretary. If you need assistance or advice and are not a member, you are welcome to ask us but in most cases the support provided will be limited to a quick phonecall or email. 

Please do not be offended if we do not agree to take on your casework. While we try to improve things collectively for all hospitality workers, we can only really help our existing members with their individual problems. 

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