Employees are a big part of what makes our rural businesses and communities survive and thrive, and should feel supported and appreciated. Rural Support Trust is always available when you want to chat to someone – whether it’s about your employment situation (including legal advice) or your wellbeing.
Ring 0800 694 121 for free and confidential employee advice and support.
The team are available to answer your calls and emails between the hours of:
9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday
If outside these hours please use the e-mail form on our website and we will arrange for the team to get back to you as soon as possible.
When working on a New Zealand farm you’ll receive either a salary (an annual amount divided into pay periods) or wages (payment per hour). The type, amount and frequency of payments must be stated in your employment agreement and should be reviewed annually as you develop your skills and experience. It’s a good idea to understand what competitive rates are for your job but as a minimum you must be paid the NZ minimum wage for every hour worked in every pay period (rent can be deducted from this). If you request a copy of your wage and time records (and holiday and leave records) your employer must provide it. If there is anything you don’t understand ask your employer to explain it to you.
Often jobs on farm come with a house, this is called a service tenancy. A service tenancy is the same as a regular tenancy except if the job ends the tenancy usually ends and the notice period is shorter. Houses on-farm must meet the healthy homes standards and you should always have a tenancy agreement. It’s best practice that the appropriate rent is deducted from your .salary or wages. To find out more visit Tenancy Services.
Leave and holidays
As an employee you are entitled to annual holidays, public holidays, sick leave, bereavement leave, parental leave and other types of leave as long as you meet certain conditions, these will be stated in your employment agreement. It’s important that any leave requests are well communicated to your employer as soon as you know about them. Holidays are vital too as breaks away from work help keep you healthy and well.
Being safe at work
Being and feeling safe at work is critical, nothing is more important. As an employee you must take reasonable care of your own health and safety and ensure your actions don’t cause harm to others. You must also comply with any reasonable instructions, policies or procedures on how to work in a safe and healthy way. If you have any concerns, you should immediately speak to your employer – speaking up helps keep everyone safe.
Rights and responsibilities
Employees and employers both have responsibilities towards each other. You must both act and deal with each other in good faith, work to build trust and confidence and act reasonably towards one another. As an employee there are minimum entitlements you must receive. Your employment agreement must have terms and conditions which outline these entitlements and are at least as good as the minimum rights in law. To find out more visit Employment New Zealand.
Conflict in the workplace
Sometimes problems arise in the workplace. Often the issue is minor and can be resolved quickly. Sometimes it is more significant and New Zealand law requires specific steps to be taken to address it, as described here. Unless extremely serious, the best course of action is to act in good faith and raise any issues early with your team and/or manager using open, respectful communication and focussing on the problem to be solved. Everyone has a part to play in creating a positive team culture.
Settling into New Zealand
Working and living in a different country is a big adjustment. We encourage you to reach out and get involved in your local community. Great information and ideas on how to settle into New Zealand can be found here.
Recognised Seasonal Employee 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.
The primary sector has many opportunities for people to grow and develop and can provide a career for life. Learning can take place in many ways from on-the-job to short courses, right through to agricultural degrees. Check out career information about dairy, sheep and beef and horticulture or visit Primary ITO for work-based training.