Misclassification of courier drivers’ employment status

The Labour Inspectorate is running a national campaign focusing on courier drivers who might be misclassified as contractors.

We encourage courier drivers who may be missing out on employment rights and protections to contact us.

Last year, the Employment Court ruled that a courier driver at Parcel Express who was considered a contractor of the company, was in fact its employee. Since then the media has reported drivers in other courier groups feel that they have been misclassified as contractors, too.

Contractors versus employees

Misclassified workers miss out on basic employment rights and protections such as payment of at least the minimum wage, paid annual and public holidays, paid sick and bereavement leave, and the right to a proper process if they are fired or made redundant.

Some courier drivers are genuine contractors, while others more closely fit the legal definition of an employee. There isn’t a fixed rule that courier drivers should exclusively be employees or contractors. Employment status depends on each individual’s situation.

To make the correct decision employers must focus on the real nature of the working relationship, not just the label the parties are calling it. The courts have developed some legal tests to help you tell the difference, they are:

  • Intention test
  • Control vs independence test
  • Integration test
  • Fundamental/economic reality test

Differences between employees and contractors

Labour Inspectorate’s role

The Labour Inspectorate can take enforcement action against employers who fail to provide employees, including those who have been misclassified as contractors, with their minimum employment entitlements.

Labour Inspectorate’s role and focus

What we would like you to do

For potential misclassification

If you are:

  • a contractor courier driver and think that your employment status is being misclassified, or
  • an employee courier driver and think that you are not receiving minimum employment rights

Please email us at courier@employment.govt.nz with the information below.

  • your name
  • your contact phone number
  • whether you are a contractor or employee
  • the name of the business you work for
  • the type of work you do
  • whether you agree to be contacted for further information.

Your information will be received in a confidential and safe environment. We will use the information to help us evaluate the size of the issue and determine if any further action is necessary.

For help to set yourself up as a small business

For those who are genuinely self-employed or those who want to be, you can find guidance on what things to consider when contracting and starting up your own business:

What to think about before you start contracting – business.govt.nz (external link)

10-step guide to starting a business – business.govt.nz (external link)

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Page last revised: 11 August 2021

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