Holidays, leave and breaks
Annual leave is provided for rest and relaxation - this is holiday time.
All employees (except casual employees) are entitled to four weeks of annual leave per year. Exactly how many days leave will depend on your roster. However, usually it will be between 20 and 24 days per year if you are a full time permanent staff member. To find out your exact annual leave entitlement, check your employment agreement or talk to your employer. You could also use our annual leave entitlement calculator.
Check out Employment New Zealand for annual holiday information.
Bereavement leave is leave for staff genuinely upset by a death.
Generally, when it’s close family you are entitled to three days of paid bereavement leave whilst for close friends or other relatives you may be entitled to one day of paid bereavement leave. How much bereavement leave you can have depends on a number of factors. Your employment agreement will give you more detail or talk to your employer about your bereavement leave entitlement.
Check out Employment New Zealand for bereavement leave information.
Public holidays are different to annual leave. There are 11 public holidays in New Zealand (provided the day would normally be a working day).
The public holidays are:
- Christmas Day (25 December)
- Boxing Day (26 December)
- New Year’s Day (1 January)
- The day after New Year’s Day (2 January)
- Waitangi Day (6 February)
- ANZAC Day (25 April)
- Good Friday (date is different each year)
- Easter Monday (date is different each year)
- Queen’s Birthday (first Monday in June)
- Labour Day (fourth Monday in October)
- Anniversary Day (date determined locally)
Normally, if you are entitled to the public holiday you will be given a paid day off. If you are required to work on that day, you will normally be paid time and a half, plus you will be allowed a day off in future (a day in lieu).
To find out what public holidays you are entitled to, check your employment agreement or talk to your employer.
Check out Employment New Zealand for public holiday information.
Sick leave is for when you are genuinely ill or injured. It can also be used when your partner or a person who depends on you for care (such as your child or elderly parent) is sick or injured.
The normal amount is five paid days of sick leave per year and you can take this after you have been at the job for six months.
To find out what sick leave you are entitled to, check your employment agreement or talk to your employer.
Check out Employment New Zealand for more sick leave information.
Parental leave is for when a baby is born or newly in your care.
Normally, you will get some pay from the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) if you are off work on parental leave. The payment amount is different depending on your work circumstances and your pay rate.
To find out what parental leave you are entitled to, check your employment agreement or talk to your employer.
Check out Employment New Zealand for more patental leave information.
Rest and meal breaks are provided to give employees a chance to refresh.
There are no set rules for break times or lengths. Common practice in the dairy farming industry is that after milking in the morning, there is a breakfast/morning tea break of at least 30 minutes long. Other breaks for a brief rest are normally 10–15 minutes long and other meal breaks are commonly 30 minutes.
Working on a farm, sometimes the break times can be longer or shorter than this, and less structured. Sometimes you might end up with minimal breaks if there’s a lot happening on farm and sometimes you might be off farm for two hours for something personal. It will also depend on your employer, if they prefer a structured work environment, breaks will normally be set and regular. If your employer’s style is more relaxed, breaks could be less organised.
To find out what breaks you are entitled to, check your employment agreement or check with your employer.
Employment New Zealand has more information on breaks.
Before you start work, you must have a written individual employment agreement that needs to contain certain information. Find out more about legal contracts and employment agreements.
For each hour you work you must be paid the minimum wage, whether you’re on a salary or an hourly rate. Your employer must keep pay records.
Legally, there is a minimum rate of pay employers must pay employees for work done. These rates apply to all employees including full-time, part-time, fixed-term and casual arrangements. Minimum pay rates are reviewed each year. Employment New Zealand has information on minimum wage and current mimimum wage rates.
Seasonal averaging is when your employer averages out pay across a 12 month period with the intention that the 60 hours per week worked during calving will be offset by only working 20 hours per week in the low season. Seasonal averaging is not allowed in relation to minimum wage, each hour must be paid at least the minimum wage. For this reason, your work hours may need to be kept under a maximum number. If you go over those hours, your employer may choose to make regular top-up payments.
Here is an example of how this works:
Top-up Payment Example
John (Farm Assistant)
$34,320.00 per annum
40 per week ($16.50 per hour)
Week ending 17 January 2016
$660.00 ($34,320.00 ÷ 52 weeks)
$13.75 ($660 ÷ 48 hours)
Top up payment:
$132.00 ($16.50 x 48 hours = $792. $792- $660 = $132.00)
Legally, your wages must be paid in cash. If your employer wants to pay wages another way (e.g. direct credit, cheque), employers must get their employees' written agreement.
You must give written consent before deductions can be made from your wages. For example, if you pay rent for your accommodation, you may be asked to sign a ‘wage deduction’ form saying you agree to have your rent taken out of your pay. Another example is if you want to purchase wet weather gear your employer may agree to purchase it for you and let you pay them back out of your wages over a few months. You may be asked to sign something which says you agree to this arrangement. Some deductions like PAYE tax, student loan and child support are required by law and do not need written consent.
Employment New Zealand has more information on getting paid.
Your employer is not allowed to discriminate with pay because of your race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sex or sexual orientation, marital or family status, employment status, age, religious belief, ethical belief or political opinion, disability, or participation in certain union activities.
Your employer also can’t discriminate based on your health, for example, if you have mild asthma. However, you do need to be physically able to carry out the tasks of the job and if you are not able to because of health or injury, your employer will discuss this with you including various options.
Your employer can pay different amounts to different people based on skills, knowledge, experience, personal attributes and length of time in the job. For example, if you start off as a farm hand on $17 per hour and find out that the other farm hand is on $19 per hour, it could be that he has two years more farming experience than you and he has been on that particular farm longer than you.
Your employer is required to keep accurate records of time worked for all employees plus the payments made, and holiday and leave entitlements.
They have to keep this paperwork, it’s the law. Because they are running a farm business, there are lots of processes that should be in place.
It would be a good idea if you also kept your own record of your hours worked, just in case there are any disagreements. Take a photocopy or photo of your pay slip, record it in your phone or write it down – whatever works!
Employment New Zealand has more information on keeping pay records.
KiwiSaver is a savings system to help you with long-term saving for retirement.
The best way to join KiwiSaver is to ask your employer to deduct your KiwiSaver contributions out of your regular pay at 3%, 4% or 8% of your annual pay. Your employer pays the money to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) which is then invested in a savings scheme. Basically, the money is put away for your retirement so you can live more comfortably when you stop working and retire.
The Inland Revenue Department has for more information on KiwiSaver.
Employment relationship problems
Your employment agreement should clearly explain the process that you and your employer have agreed for resolving any employment relationship problems.
Firstly, it’s best to try and work it out by talking and listening to your employer. It’s often a good idea to involve a support person at the discussion.
Health and safety
Your employer is required to provide a work environment for you that is safe and healthy. As an employee you have to follow the health and safety rules of the farm.
Health and safety
Farming in New Zealand has been one of the higher risk industries and there is a lot of work being done to try to make farms safer places.
When you go to work, you should return home safely at the end of every day without being harmed on the farm. You and your employer must work together so that everyone at work is safe and healthy so that everyone remains well and uninjured.
For more information about health and safety, visit:
Health and safety - Health and safety processes on the DairyNZ website
Worksafe NZ - WorkSafe New Zealand is the work health and safety regulator
Safer Farms - Everything you need to know about making farms a safer place for everyone
Employment New Zealand - Source of information on employment in New Zealand.