What are your rights as an employee working on a temporary visa in New Zealand?

If you’re planning to work in New Zealand on a temporary visa, it’s essential to know your employment rights. As a temporary visa holder, you’re entitled to the same employment rights and protections as New Zealand citizens and residents. In this article, we’ll discuss the key aspects of employment rights for temporary visa holders, including minimum wage, working conditions, health and safety, and ways to address workplace issues.

Employment Agreements

In New Zealand, it’s mandatory for all employees, including temporary visa holders, to have a written employment agreement with their employer. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of employment, such as job responsibilities, hours of work, salary, and leave entitlements. Make sure to carefully read and understand your employment agreement before signing it. Keep a copy for your records, as it will serve as a reference in case of any workplace disputes.

Minimum Wage and Pay

As a temporary visa holder, you’re entitled to receive at least the minimum wage set by the New Zealand government. As of 2023, the minimum wage rates are:

  • Adult minimum wage (for workers aged 16 years and over): NZD 22.75 per hour
  • Starting-out wage (for eligible workers aged 16 to 19 years): NZD 18.20 per hour
  • Training minimum wage (for eligible workers aged 20 years and over): NZD 18.20 per hour

Please note that these rates may change, so always check the latest information on the Employment New Zealand website.

Working Hours and Overtime

In New Zealand, the standard workweek is 40 hours, typically spread over five days. As a temporary visa holder, you have the right to reasonable working hours, rest breaks, and meal breaks. Additionally, if you work more than your contracted hours, you may be entitled to overtime pay or time off in lieu. Make sure your employment agreement clearly outlines the terms and conditions related to working hours, breaks, and overtime pay.

Holidays and Leave Entitlements

Temporary visa holders in New Zealand are entitled to the same leave entitlements as citizens and residents. These include:

  • Annual leave: After completing 12 months of continuous employment, you’re entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per year.
  • Public holidays: You’re entitled to 11 public holidays per year, provided they fall on days you would usually work. If you’re required to work on a public holiday, you should be paid at least time and a half for the hours worked.
  • Sick leave: After six months of continuous employment, you’re entitled to five days of paid sick leave per year, which can be used for your own illness or to care for a dependent.
  • Parental leave: If you meet certain eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to parental leave. This includes unpaid extended leave and government-funded paid leave for eligible employees.

Health and Safety

New Zealand has strict health and safety regulations to protect workers. Employers must provide a safe working environment and take all reasonably practicable steps to minimize workplace hazards.

As a temporary visa holder, you have the right to:

  • Work in a safe and healthy environment
  • Receive training and supervision to perform your job safely
  • Be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) if required
  • Refuse to perform work that poses a serious risk to your health and safety Resolving Workplace Issues

If you encounter any workplace issues or disputes, it’s essential to address them promptly. You can follow these steps to resolve workplace concerns:

  • Discuss the issue with your employer: Raise your concerns with your employer or supervisor, and try to find a solution together.
  • Seek support from your union: If you’re a member of a union, you can seek advice and support from your union representative.
  • Consult Employment New Zealand: Visit the Employment New Zealand website for resources and guidance on resolving workplace issues, or contact their free helpline for advice.
  • Mediation: If you’re unable to resolve the issue directly with your employer, you can consider engaging a mediator. Mediation is a free, confidential, and informal process that helps both parties reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Raise a personal grievance: If the issue remains unresolved, you can file a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA). The ERA investigates employment disputes and makes legally binding decisions.

Discrimination and Harassment

As a temporary visa holder, you have the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. The Human Rights Act protects employees against discrimination based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religious beliefs, and other grounds. If you experience discrimination or harassment at work, follow the steps outlined above to address the issue and seek support from relevant organizations, such as the Human Rights Commission.

Ending Employment

Employment termination procedures apply to temporary visa holders, just as they do for citizens and residents. Your employer must provide notice, as specified in your employment agreement, and pay any outstanding wages, leave entitlements, or other payments owed to you. If you believe your employment was terminated unfairly, you may have grounds for a personal grievance.

Know Your Rights as an Employee

Understanding your employment rights as a temporary visa holder in New Zealand is crucial to ensuring you’re treated fairly and protected in the workplace. Familiarize yourself with local labor laws and regulations, and seek support from relevant organizations if you encounter any issues. Working in New Zealand can be a rewarding experience, and knowing your rights will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful country.

Useful Links to find more information on any of the points mentioned in this article:

Employment New Zealand: https://www.employment.govt.nz/

This is the official website for employment matters in New Zealand, offering comprehensive information on employment rights, minimum wage rates, working conditions, and more.

Immigration New Zealand: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/

This website provides information about different types of visas, including temporary work visas, and the application process for people planning to work in New Zealand.

WorkSafe New Zealand: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/

WorkSafe New Zealand is the government agency responsible for workplace health and safety. This website offers resources and guidance for both employees and employers.

Employment Relations Authority (ERA): https://www.era.govt.nz/

The ERA is responsible for resolving employment disputes and making legally binding decisions. Visit their website for information on the grievance process and how to file a personal grievance.

Erik Murthy

Erik Murthy

Licensed Immigration Advisor at ICL Immigration

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