Youth Employment Rights

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%.

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.

When in Youth Employment
As an employee you have the right to expect a healthy and safe workplace in which to work. Under the Employee & Health & Safety Act the employer has certain obligations.

You can make sure that:

  • The employer will provide you with a safe workplace.
  • The employer has control hazards in the workplace.
  • The employer will train and supervise you and al other staff.
  • The employer will keep you and all other staff informed about health issues.
  • The employer will record all accidents and report all injuries to OSH.

You should also be aware of your rights to holidays and other leave. The Holidays Act 1981 sets out the minimum allowances you have to receive. You are entitled to 11 public holidays and these will be paid holidays.

These are:

  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
  • New Years Day
  • 2nd January
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Anzac Day
  • Labour Day
  • Queens Birthday
  • Waitangi Day
  • Your Province's Anniversary Day

You are also entitled to a minimum of three weeks paid annual holiday leave, which becomes due at the end of each year of employment. Your employer must allow you at least two uninterrupted weeks of your annual leave within six months after you become entitled to it. The balance of your annual leave must be allowed within the next six months.

After you have been employed for six months you are entitled to five days special leave for each year you work and this will be for sickness or bereavement. It can be taken if you are sick, suffer a bereavement, your spouse is sick, your dependent child or parent is sick. This type of leave cannot be accumulated and used in the following year. This may depend on your employment contract, which may allow you to do this.

If you have not used up your annual holiday leave and your job is terminated you are entitled to be paid out the balance of your holiday pay. You also have the right to recover any wages owing to you and you can take any grievance to the Employment Relations Authority.

If your employer goes out of business you can make a claim for wages owed and this will have first priority outside of the costs of the liquidation or bankruptcy. Your employer has to keep wages and time records relating to your employment.

When you go for a job, your potential employer cannot discriminate against you and they cannot discriminate on the grounds of:

  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Marital Status
  • Age
  • Religious belief
  • Political opinion
  • Ethnic belief
  • Employment status
  • Colour
  • Family status
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Ethnic or national origins

This means that you do not have to answer questions that are asked at your interview if it is to do with your place of birth, your race or national origin, the origin of your surname, your marital status, your plans to marry, how many children you have, your religious belief, the people you live with, the political party you support.

If you think you have been wrongfully dismissed, you can bring a personal grievance claim against your employer to the Employment Relations Authority.

Some of the information on Employment Regulations area is from the Government Employment Service - contact at - . Contact Employment Relations Infoline on 0800 800 863