Types of employment arrangements

A summary of the different types of employment arrangement you may encounter while working in New Zealand.

Casual employment

Your employer may ask you to work as a ‘casual’. It’s usually because your employer can’t predict when work will be available.

Casual work normally means that you work as and when required, i.e., when the employer calls you into work.  If you are required to do casual work then this must be made clear in your employment agreement.

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Different kinds of employment

There are different kinds of employment arrangements, usually depending on what type of employment you’re in, how long the job is for and how you’re paid. Remember, students can only work up to 20 hours in a week.

You have exactly the same rights regardless of which type of employment you’re in or what kind of agreement you have.

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Fixed term agreements

A fixed term agreement is for employment that finishes on a set date.   There are special rules for fixed term employment agreements and there has to be a genuine reason for them.

Being employed for a one-off project, like painting a house or building something would be a genuine reason for a fixed term agreement. So would filling in for a permanent employee on parental or study leave, or for doing work that’s only available at specific times of the year like fruit picking.

Your employment agreement must state how and when the fixed term will end, and you should be aware of this before you commence your employment.

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Full and part-time employment

Full-time work usually means 35–40 hours a week while part-time work might be any number of hours less than this, often 10-20 hours a week. You have exactly the same employment rights whether you work part-time or full-time.

Remember, international students can’t work full-time during study time unless they are completing a masters by research or doctoral degree . And they can’t work for more than 20 hours in any week except over certain scheduled breaks when full-time work is allowed. 

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Piece work

A piece work (or piece rate) arrangement is when an employer pays you for the number of items or ‘pieces’ you complete.

For example, you might be employed to pick fruit and be paid by the number of buckets you collect.

If you’re paid at a piece rate you should still receive at least the minimum wage for every hour you work.

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Trial periods

An employer can ask for a trial period of up to 90 days during which time your employer can dismiss you without warning or giving you a reason.  An employer cannot force you to accept a trial period.

If you agree to a trial period, make sure you understand what is involved. The details of any trial period need to be recorded in your employment agreement before you start work.

Your minimum rights and entitlements still apply and your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage during a trial period.

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