An allowance is an extra payment on top of the employee’s regular pay for something specific related to their job, for example, travel costs or training. There is no legal requirement for an employer to provide an allowance.

Employees are not entitled to be paid allowances or other benefits over and above their salary and wages unless these have been agreed with their employer. An allowance can be for something specific related to the job, for example:

  • to cover transport and accommodation costs if the employee has to travel for work
  • money for work-related training, qualifications, or conferences
  • a contribution towards uniform or dress code costs.

Allowances for work-related travel

Employees should agree with their employer on how work-related travel will be paid. How an employee gets paid or reimbursed for travel-related costs depends on what's in their employment agreement and workplace policies.

Employment agreement

Workplace policies

If they have agreed with their employer that travel during working hours is part of their normal work, then the employee should be paid for the travel time – for example, time spent travelling from one worksite to another.

Hours of work

Allowances for uniforms or work clothes

Employers must pay for and provide protective clothing if it's required to manage risk of harm from an identified hazard.

If the workplace has a uniform or dress code, employees will need to agree with their employer who will pay for buying and cleaning of work clothing, or if employees will receive an allowance for this. If employees are responsible for the cost, their employer cannot make them buy their work clothing from a certain shop but they can ask for it to be of a certain standard.

Equipment, vehicles and clothing

Personal protective equipment – a guide for workers - WorkSafe(external link)

Other allowances

An allowance can also be paid to recognise:

  • extra qualities or skills employees bring to a job
  • special responsibilities they may have taken on (for example, leading hand or supervisor)
  • any unpleasant or inconvenient features of their work.

Allowances can also be paid to reimburse for costs or expenses incurred on behalf of the employer.

Inland Revenue provides detailed information on allowances.

Allowances – Inland Revenue(external link)

Pay and the minimum wage [PDF, 540 KB]

Learning module: Employee – Other leave(external link)

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