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Misclassification of courier drivers’ employment status

The Labour Inspectorate’s national campaign to identify and assist courier drivers misclassified as contractors has now concluded.

If you are a courier driver with concerns about your employment classification or your minimum employment entitlements (employment agreement, minimum wage, and/or entitlement to holidays and leave), contact 0800 20 90 20.

Background to the campaign

In 2020 the Employment Court ruled that a courier driver at Parcel Express who was considered a contractor of the company was, in fact, an employee. In the following months, the media reported that drivers in other courier groups also felt that they had been misclassified as contractors.

Contractor versus employee

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 – as well as 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 

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: 31 August 2022

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