New Zealand

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New Zealand is an island nation located in the southwest Pacific Ocean comprised of more than 600 islands. The population is concentrated on two islands. English is the dominant language. New Zealand boasts an advanced and diversified economy. Major industries in New Zealand include food processing, textiles, finance and tourism.

Employment contracts in New Zealand must be in writing and be made available to the employer and the employee. Background checks are common in New Zealand.

There are no legal restrictions on working hours in New Zealand. The traditional work period is 40 hours a week, with the day commencing at 8:30 a.m. and finishing at 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with a half-hour break for lunch.

Overtime pay is not legally required in New Zealand. However, an employee who works on a public holiday is entitled to 150% of their average daily pay, or a rate negotiated as part of the employment contract. Employers and employees can also agree to another day off, in lieu of payment.

Employees in New Zealand are entitled to a minimum of five days paid sick leave a year after the first six months of continuous employment. An additional five days of paid sick leave is provided after each subsequent 12-month period. Unused sick leave is carried over to the next year. However, the accumulation of sick leave is capped at 20 days. Employers pay their employees at their normal wages while on sick leave. Employers are also responsible for financial contribution to any work-related injury of their employees.

Employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave when they have a baby in New Zealand. The first 26 weeks is paid primary carer leave and the last 26 weeks are unpaid extended leave.

Employees are eligible for primary carer leave if they:

  • are either the birth mother, or the spouse or partner with primary carer payments transferred to them,

  • are the primary caregiver for a child under the age of six, including via adoption, or

  • have worked for the same employer for an average of 10 hours per week for the 26 weeks prior to the child arriving.

Primary care leave can start up to six weeks before the expected due date and must be taken in one continuous period. Primary carer leave can start earlier if the employee gives birth early, is directed to do so by a doctor, or the employer determines that the work performed by the employee is too dangerous or cannot be performed while pregnant and cannot shift the employee to other tasks. Female employees must take 20 weeks of leave after birth, even if the primary carer leave started early. In this situation, the additional primary carer’s leave is not included in the amount of extended leave available.

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 10 hours per week for 52 weeks before the start of leave can also take an additional 26 weeks of unpaid extended leave, starting after primary carer leave, for a total of up to 52 weeks. Extended leave can be shared by both parents, provided both parents meet eligibility requirements. Employees who have not worked an average of 10 hours per week for the 26 weeks prior to the child arriving do not qualify for primary carers or extended leave but can ask for negotiated carer leave. Negotiated carer leave allows an employee to take parental leave and receive payment even if they do not meet the requirements of primary carer leave.

Spouses or partners can take one week of their partner’s leave if they have worked at least 10 hours a week for the 26 weeks before the child’s arrival, or two weeks if they have worked at least 10 hours a week for the 52 weeks before the child’s arrival. Partner leave can generally be taken at any point starting 21 days before the expected due date or the date primary carer leave starts, and 21 days after the birth or the date primary carer leave starts.

Bonuses in New Zealand are not mandatory but many employers pay them. New Zealand also has a minimum wage.

Employees receive four weeks of paid annual leave in New Zealand after one year of service.

In New Zealand, the public holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Day After New Year’s Day

  • Waitangi Day

  • Good Friday

  • Easter Monday

  • Anzac Day

  • Queen’s Birthday

  • Labor Day

  • Christmas Day

  • Boxing Day

New Zealand has public and private healthcare. Many employers offer health insurance as a benefit or option.

There are several grounds for termination in New Zealand, including:

  • serious misconduct,

  • repeated misconduct,

  • performance issues,

  • redundancy,

  • incompatibility, and

  • incapacity.

While a termination does not need to be in writing, employees can ask for written documentation stating the reason for their dismissal. This request can be made up to 60 days after the dismissal and, if requested, the employer has 14 days to comply. If an employer fails to comply by the deadline the terminated employee can file a grievance.

Employers are generally required to follow the same procedures for dismissing an employee either inside or outside the trial period. However, an employer with less than 20 employees is not required to provide written documentation detailing the reason for dismissing an employee within a trial period not exceeding 90 days. Further, the employee cannot file a grievance against the employer.

New Zealand does not require a specific notice period. Rather, the employment contract should specify the notice period required. If the employment contract does not provide a notice period, fair and reasonable notice must be given. What is considered fair and reasonable will depend on the type of job, length of service, common practice and other related considerations. New Zealand does not require the payment of severance upon dismissal.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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