Negotiating your employment conditions


2 min read

You've been offered a role Total package Value Remuneration or pay Accommodation Additional resources

Negotiating so you get the terms and conditions, and pay, you think is fair is important and can be complicated when there are a lot of things that make up the ‘value’ of your job. When discussing pay, it's important to consider the role's responsibilities, the roster and hours you will work, location, and the personal skills and experience you bring to the job.

You can negotiate a core salary or hourly wage as well as other benefits such as training support. Also, ensure you know what the cost of any accommodation will be. You need to understand what the total package is so you can compare more easily with other jobs, inside or outside of dairy.

Congratulations, you’ve been offered a role!

You have completed the interview process and your the successful applicant! You will receive from your employer a formal job offer which includes;

  • An employment agreement which will have details of your proposed rate of pay, and your rostered time off.
  • A tenancy agreement if there is accommodation provided with the role.

Once you receive your formal offer, you can now negotiate a core salary or hourly wage as well as other benefits such as training support. Understanding your worth and negotiating a good total package is essential when discussing employment terms with potential employers.

The employer is required to give you time to examine the proposed employment agreement in detail and make sure the terms and conditions offered are going to suit you. Take advice from someone you trust, ideally, this is a person who knows employment law but don’t feel pressured into signing any agreement immediately. You can also reach out to Rural Support Trust who can offer employee support.

Consider the whole offer

Don’t just think about the remuneration when considering a job offer. Consider the value and opportunity of the entire offer, including factors such as the learning and career opportunities the role may give you, the location, work hours, roster, team culture, and employer support.

Much of your satisfaction from the job can come from these other factors which you can also negotiate.

Total package value ($)

When discussing pay, it’s important to consider and discuss the ‘total package’. On top of wages or a salary, employers may provide staff benefits. Many farm roles come with accommodation. Sometimes the value of accommodation is added on top of the pay, and other times it is included in the remuneration offer, make sure you are clear about how accommodation has been calculated and accounted for in any role you’re offered. Other benefits sometimes offered on-farm include assistance with the cost of training, or free firewood, meat, or milk. The combined value of these benefits is the total package value.

Make sure you are clear about what benefits are included in the package you are being offered, and their approximate values.

Check out our Total Package Value and minimum wage calculator.

Remuneration, or pay, comes in two forms

Salary is annualised pay where the agreed amount is earned over the year. This amount is divided and paid regularly - weekly, fortnightly, or monthly - the same amount each pay period. The salary offer should be accompanied by an expectation of the hours to be worked during the year.

Wages are an hourly rate of pay. The agreed rate is paid for every hour worked during the pay period which is normally weekly or fortnightly. The amount paid can differ in each pay period because the hours worked in each period can be different.

Minimum wage

You must be paid at least the minimum wage for each hour you work in any pay period, whether you’re paid hourly or on a salary. Hours are not allowed to be averaged over a season for the purpose of calculating minimum wage during a pay period. The rent you pay (or any accommodation allowance) can be included in minimum wage calculations.

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

Negotiating pay

Pay is negotiated when the employer wants to employ you. They will make you an offer and you can accept this if you think it is good or you can make a counter suggestion which is higher. It is always a good idea to discuss pay ranges during the interview stage to ensure you are both within the same ballpark. It isn’t rude to discuss pay ranges and prevents later misunderstandings and/or time wasting.

Pay rates will vary depending on the location of the job, the tasks required, the level of responsibility, working hours, and current market rates. Your skills, experience, and attributes will also help to determine the pay rate. Be realistic, honest, and genuine. Do your research and make sure you have a good understanding of what your skills are worth in the sector.

You are negotiating to come to an agreement, so you may need to compromise. Consider your non-negotiables and what you’re willing to compromise on, to establish your negotiation boundaries. Both parties must negotiate in good faith. The goal is always a good working relationship with open and honest communication.

You can find out about salary ranges on the GoDairy website, or from friends or colleagues.


Many farm jobs will mean you live in on-farm accommodation. Because the 'house comes with the job' this is called a service tenancy. It is a formal agreement that requires documenting. A service tenancy is the same as a regular tenancy except that if your job ends so does the tenancy and the notice period is much shorter.

Farm accommodation can vary immensely; you may be offered a house on your own, a house to share with other staff, or the option to live off farm in a house of your choice.

Always walk through the accommodation on offer by a potential employer before agreeing to live there and ask these key questions:

  • How will rent be paid and how much?
  • How much bond do I need to pay?
  • Who mows the lawns?
  • Who do I report damage or maintenance issues to?
  • What happens with rubbish collection?
  • Does the property come with any furniture or whiteware, landline or WiFi access, is electricity or gas included?
  • Is the property insured?

The questions above should be answered in the Terms and Conditions of a Service Tenancy Agreement, which must be signed by you and your employer. For more information visit Tenancy Services

It’s best practice that you agree on a remuneration rate (salary or wages) and then agree on what the rent will be. The amount of rent will be determined by the location, quality, and size of the house, and if you have exclusive use or if you will be sharing.

The rent charged should be a fair market rate, but this does not mean this is the value of the accommodation to you. If you are a single person, for example, you may not be prepared to pay market rent for a family home. Rent is a key point for negotiation.

Rent will typically be deducted from your salary but your employer must get your permission in writing to make this deduction. It will often be a clause included in your employment agreement.

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

Last updated: Feb 2024

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