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Employment in New Zealand

Tony from NZ Immigration —

Immigration New Zealand has provided the following information on your rights in employment, and other helpful information. There are also a number of useful links below.

Your Rights as an Employee:

  • Every employee in NZ has the same employment rights – it does not matter what the job is or what your immigration status is
  • New Zealanders can be trusted to be good employers
  • You are living in NZ and we want you to be happy and successful
  • You have a voice and are allowed to speak up for yourself, your family and your friends
  • You must be given a written contract to sign; you can seek advice from your friends, family members, or a lawyer before signing
  • You must be paid $15.75 per hour, or more
  • If you are paid less, it is illegal
  • Do not work for a small amount of money – say “No”
  • No one can take money out of your pay, without permission (eg. money for a jacket, helmet, shoes, a course, etc)
  • You must pay tax to the government
  • If you work full-time (40-50 hours per week) you get 4 weeks paid holiday per year
  • If you work full-time, you also get 10 paid sick days per year
  • You can take time off work for a funeral (Bereavement Leave)
  • Your employer must keep information about your contract, wages, holidays, etc; you can see this information
  • If there is a problem at work, ask to speak with your employer; you can ask someone you trust to come to the meeting.

How NZ work culture is different from the rest of the world:

  • We think that everyone is equal in NZ – we stand together
  • In the NZ workplace, you can talk to your boss, you can say “hello” and shake hands
  • You can do your job without being told what to do all the time – “Let me do my job”
  • It can be hard because you are told only once how to do something in the NZ workplace
  • You can ask questions so that you can do a good job and be safe
  • New Zealanders speak very fast and it is difficult to understand them
  • In NZ, we like to be polite – we don’t tell people what to do because we think this is rude; sometimes this can be confusing
  • When New Zealanders say: “We need to do this,” they often mean: “You need to do this!”
  • You can say: “Please tell me what to do and I will do a good job.”

Kiwi Slang:

It is hard to communicate because you might hear weird words or phrases that make no sense:

  • Chilly bin = a box to keep your food/drinks cold
  • A sparkie = an electrician
  • “I’m good as gold” = “I am ok”, “there is no problem”
  • Bring a plate = take some food on a plate, to share
  • Togs = swimming clothes
  • Ding = a small dent in a car
  • “I am skint” = “I have no money”

Small Talk

  • Kiwis often talk about the weather: “It’s very cold today, isn’t it?”
  • Never ask Kiwis how much they earn.

Driving in NZ

  • Our roads are sometimes very windy and narrow – it can take a long time to get somewhere
  • You must plan your trip, make sure you are not tired, and drink lots of water
  • We have Learner, Restricted and Full licences
  • You can drive on your home country licence or an International Driver’s Licence for only one year, then you must get your NZ Driver’s Licence
  • The NZ Police are friendly, helpful and not corrupt
  • The NZ Police recruit people from all ethnic groups to reflect the community they serve.

If you need help: