Regulations for Employ of Youth

Being a young Employee
Started your first job? Then good luck, and keep safe. It's a good time to learn, or to remember from school, that there are laws to help you stay safe and look after yourself on the job.

Employment Rights
Everyone has the same basic rights at work, regardless of their age. These include:

  • Your employer has to give you a written employment agreement
  • You are allowed 3 weeks paid annual holidays after 12 months employment*
  • You are allowed 11 paid public holidays if they are days when you would normally work*
  • You are allowed 5 days paid sick leave a year after six months in the job. If you do not use your leave, it is carried over to the next year - up to a maximum of 20 days*
  • You are allowed 3 days bereavement leave on the death of an immediate family member, or one day of leave where your employer recognises that you have suffered a bereavement (entitled after six months in the job)*
  • You can choose for yourself whether to join or not to join a union
  • You can get help to sort out problems at work, through mediation or through the Labour Inspectorate
  • You are entitled to be paid at least the applicable minimum wage (see below for rates)
  • You have the right to health and safety at work
  • You have the right to paid parental leave
  • You have the right to undertake voluntary military service
  • You should be protected from discrimination at work
  • You should be protected from sexual harassment at work
  • Please note that the list above is up to date with the new Holidays Act, which came into effect on 1 April 2004. If you're unsure about your rights at work, call Employment Relations Infoline on 0800 800 863 for more information.

Your rights at work - minimum wage
If you’re on the minimum wage, your pay just went up. On 1 April 2004, anyone on the minimum wage received an automatic pay increase of 5.9%. The changes to the minimum wage are summarized below, but because there are so many different kinds of work arrangements and situations, you can call free on 0800 800 863 if you’re still unsure about how the minimum wage changes affect you.

What are the minimum wage changes?
If you’re aged 16 or 17, and on the minimum wage, your pay increases from $6.80 to $7.20 per hour from 1 April 2004. And if your 18 or over, and on the minimum wage, your pay increases from $8.50 to $9.00 per hour from 1 April 2004. If you’re doing training in your job, the training wage ($7.20 per hour) may apply to you (even if you’re over 18). To find out if this applies to you, call free on 0800 800 863.

Health and Safety
Everyone has the same basic right, under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, to a safe and healthy work environment. There are extra rules for employees under 15, including if you are a trainee or gaining work experience.

If you're under 15, you can't work where:

  • Goods are being prepared or manufactured for trade or sale;
  • Any construction work is being done;
  • Any logging or tree-felling is being done; or
  • Any other work is being done in that area that is likely to harm you.

These rules also apply if you're visiting a workplace when you're under 15. They don't apply if all your work is done in an office, or in an area used only for selling goods or services. They don't apply to visitors under direct adult supervision, on a guided tour or who are in areas accessible to the public.

What can't you do?

  • If you're under 15 you can't drive or ride on a tractor, implement or mobile plant.
  • If you're under 15 you can't operate machinery
  • If you're under 15 you can't lift heavy loads
  • If you're under 16 you can't work after 10.00 pm or before 6.00 am.

Work and Education
When you're under 16 you're legally required to be at school. This means you can't take a job that involves working during school hours, or at any other time which prevents or interferes with your school attendance. There's no problem with working during the school holidays, or at weekends.

Restricted Employment
If you’re under 18 you can’t work in any restricted area of licensed premises (like bars, licensed restaurants or clubs). Some exemptions apply for specific types of work, such as cleaning, serving meals and stocktaking. If you're under 18 you can't work as a prostitute.