Rural Support Trust: Employment Matters

Employer Support

People are at the epicentre of our farm businesses

Most farmers have a healthy working relationship with their employer/employees and this is demonstrated by transparent and respectful two-way communication within a Contract/ Agreement that satisfies both parties.  

However, there are times when farming conditions or individual stresses create an environment that is not healthy. Rural Support Facilitators are trained to provide a supportive environment so both parties can work their way back to the previous good working relationship, or triage to professionals that offer expertise. 

Please ring your local Coordinator for other support.

Minimum wage​

As a minimum employees must be paid the NZ minimum wage for every hour worked in every pay period (rent can be deducted from this). If they request a copy of your wage and time records (and holiday and leave records) you must provide it. 

Talk to your accountant, payroll provider or your finance/HR teams to ensure you are meeting current legal requirements. 

Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

The New Zealand Government’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been in place since 2007. 

Government-run, the scheme allows employers within the horticulture and viticulture industries to recruit a capped number of workers from overseas – predominantly from the Pacific – for seasonal work in New Zealand. The cap is reviewed annually.

The RSE scheme is a mutually beneficial partnership supporting the economies and communities of both Pacific nations and New Zealand. Pacific workers receive training, mentoring and develop skills they can take home to begin their own business ventures, while earning an income that is sent back to their families and the wider community.

At the same time, the RSE scheme supports New Zealand growing businesses during peak harvest times and enables the horticulture and viticulture industries to employ New Zealanders in skilled, full-time positions.

RSE scheme requirements

RSE status is only granted where employers meet the specific standards set out by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) such as evidence of their financial position, a demonstration of good employment practices, as well as a commitment to training and employing New Zealanders.

Once granted RSE status, employers must apply for an Agreement to Recruit (ATR) to bring Pacific workers into the country for seasonal work.

Under this ATR, employers must meet further obligations set out by INZ, including but not limited to: satisfactory pastoral care, fulfilment of health and safety requirements and suitable accommodation and onsite facilities.

Farm Accommodation Webinar by DWN

Become knowledgeable on the Residential Tenancy Act, Healthy Homes Guarantee Act and what your requirements, rights and responsibilities are in regards to on-farm accommodation.

Your key take-aways will cover:

  1. Understanding the requirements of the acts as of July 2019.
  2. What your rights and responsibilities are as a farm owner, sharemilker, contract milker or farm employee.
  3. Have your burning questions answered and discuss relevant issues that you have experienced.
  4. Ensure that your employment agreements are fair and reflective of legislation.
  5. Confidently follow best-practice healthy housing guidelines.

Anyone who supplies their staff with accommodation on farm or those who live in farm housing supplied by their employer should watch this webinar. We encourage you to watch with your farming partner/s.

To request the webinar.


Make time for your people - Webinar by DWN

People are at the epicentre of our farm businesses, and ensuring employers and employees have strong relationships and a good work-life balance is key to the future of the industry. Moving the dial on the importance of attracting and retaining great people in the dairy industry is the focus of this workshop and webinar series. This is a free event funded by New Zealand Dairy Farmers through the DairyNZ levy.

  • Employment Agreements: Listen to Chris Lewis from Federated Farmers and Emma Thompson from Norris Ward McKinnon discuss all the ins and outs of Employment Agreements.
  • Managing Risks of Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace: Feel confident in managing the risks of drugs and alcohol in your work place with Graeme Smith from The Drug Detection Agency.
  • Rosters: The rosters of yesterday are signicantly different to what we see today. Take a deep dive into rosters with Jane Muir from DairyNZ and Kerrin Hotop from PaySauce.
  • The Whole Person Comes to Work: Learn how to keep your team safe with Lee Astridge from No8HR, Rebecca Miller from MilkIQ and Al McCone from WorkSaf

To request the webinar.

Check out some useful links and articles about employment:

Opinion : Are we doing rural mental health right?

Opinion : Are we doing rural mental health right?

In my line of work, I see people at their best and worst. It can be challenging and gradual but being a part of the experience of fundamental change within someone suffering from mental health...
March 18, 2024 0 Comments
Safer Farms - Making Good Calls for Kids on Farm

Safer Farms - Making Good Calls for Kids on Farm

Safer Farms recently held an online hui to support and enable farmers to make good calls when it comes to on-farm safety for our children. The recording is now available to view below.
September 28, 2023 0 Comments
Farm Without Harm - Safety Conversatons

Farm Without Harm - Safety Conversatons

September 2023 -  Up Our Game Workshop was on having good safety conversations. A key insight from this session was that health and safety is the outcome of great work. As panelist and...
September 28, 2023 0 Comments
Looking for people to add to your farm team?

Looking for people to add to your farm team?

Federated Farmers want to help you as employers find workers in the agriculture sector, and we've been asked by MSD to help identify farm job vacancies across the country.

September 9, 2023 0 Comments
Need a Contract or Agreement for next season?

Need a Contract or Agreement for next season?

Farm business operations demand sound legal, fit for purpose contracts and agreements. Federated Farmers has developed industry leading documents with the help of experienced farming leaders, real...
December 10, 2022 0 Comments
"Stop & Pop" to check for nests

"Stop & Pop" to check for nests

Blair Shortall from FMG joins Andy Thompson from The Rural Roundup to discuss tractor fires and why farmers should 'Stop & Pop'! FMG tractor advice worth listening to!
November 9, 2022 0 Comments
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