Pay negotiating


2 min read

Negotiating pay Total package Value Accommodation Minimum wage Budgeting

Understanding your worth and negotiating a fair pay is essential when discussing employment terms with prospective or current farm owners. Remuneration comes in two forms: a regular salary, or hourly wages. When discussing pay, it's important to consider the role's responsibilities, location, benefits, and your personal skills and experience. You can negotiate not just the pay, but also other benefits such as training support or accommodation. Always ensure you understand the total package, including any extras like training costs or cheaper rental rates. Remember, whether you're on a salary or wage, you must be paid at least the minimum wage for each hour you work.

Make sure you know what a fair pay rate is and how to negotiate a good total package when talking with a prospective, or current employer.

Remuneration, or pay, comes in two forms:

Salary is annualised pay where the agreed amount is earnt over the course of the year. This amount is divided and paid regularly - weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

Wages are an hourly rate of pay. The agreed rate is earnt for every hour worked and paid regularly – normally weekly or fortnightly.

Negotiating pay

When you are close to being offered a new role, you should discuss the salary and other benefits. If the farm owner or manager doesn’t bring it up, you can ask what the salary range is for the position - it’s not rude.

There are a wide range of farm job pay rates depending on location of the job, the tasks and level of responsibility, the benefits, hours to be worked and current market rates. Your skills, experience and attributes will also help to determine the pay rate.

The best time to negotiate your pay is when you know the employer wants you. This may not be at your first interview, but once the decision has been made, they will be more open to negotiating.

Be realistic, honest, and genuine. Do your research and make sure you have a good understanding of what your skills are worth in the industry.

You are negotiating to come to an agreement, so you may need to compromise. For example, if you are close to agreeing a pay rate, you might want to ask if the farm will financially support your farm training or study. Training has value for both yourself and for the farm business. Think smart – what things could be of value to you, but of little cost to a farm owner/manager?

You can find out about average salaries and total package values in the Federated Farmers remuneration survey.

Total package Value

When discussing pay, it’s worth finding out about the ‘total package’. On top of wages or a salary, employers may provide staff benefits. Ask if any benefits are included and make sure you are clear about what is and is not included.

Benefits sometimes offered on farm include lower accommodation rental rates compared with suburban rates, assistance with the cost of training or free firewood, meat, milk.

Check out our Total Package Value and minimum wage calculator.


If farm accommodation is included in your Total Package Value, it should be set up as a service tenancy. This means you will be paid a full salary, and the agreed rental deducted from your pay (with your agreement), as if you were renting the house from a landlord.

Find out what you need to consider when discussing farm accommodation.

Minimum wage

You must be paid the minimum wage for each hour you work, whether you’re paid hourly or on a salary. When checking this, your wage rate can be calculated over the length of a roster but not averaged for a season.

More information about the minimum wage is on Employment New Zealand’s minimum wage information.


Once your pay rate is agreed, make a budget to ensure you are making good use of the money you earn. Your agreed pay rate will be taxed, and you will need to work out what your regular expenses are - rent, phone costs, food etc. You'll then be able to see what you should have left over.

For budgeting tips and resources visit Sorted.org.nz

For information on retirement savings visit KiwiSaver.govt.nz

Last updated: Sep 2023

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