Hiring young people

Employing young people is good for business and the community. While the government offers help to employers to hire, train and progress young people, learn what you need to do when you hire people 20 years old or under.

Employment agreements

The rules for apply to everyone. You must provide a copy of the agreement to the intended employee and give them the opportunity to take it away and get advice on the terms.

Employees under 18 years old can sign an employment agreement, but they should be encouraged to get help when agreeing to the terms and conditions. It’s worth mentioning to them that they should discuss the employment conditions with their parents or guardians.

Wage and time records

If an employee is under 20 years old, you must record the employee’s age in your usual wage and time records.


Minimum wage

There is no minimum wage for employees under the age of 16. Young employees aged 16 to 19 can be paid a starting-out wage if it applies.

Minimum wage rates and types

Restrictions on work hours

If you employ any school-aged students (under the age of 16), their work hours must:

  • be outside of school hours only (this is an education requirement)
  • not be between 10pm and 6am, including at times that interfere with the student doing schoolwork (this is a health and safety requirement).

You and the student's parents can both be fined up to $1,000 under the Education and Training Act 2020 if you employ school-aged students during school hours – unless you have a certificate of exemption.

Education and Training Act 2020 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Employees under 14 years old

A person under 14 years old cannot work as a babysitter, au pair or nanny without adult supervision. This is because it’s an offence to leave anyone under 14 years old unsupervised.

Employees under 15 years old

An employee or contractor who is under 15 years old cannot work:

  • on a logging site, for example, a forest where trees are being cut down or processed
  • on a construction site
  • in any area where goods or hazardous substances are being manufactured
  • in any area where the work requires lifting heavy weight
  • in any area where the work being done is likely to harm you
  • with any machinery or assist work with any machinery.

These restrictions do not apply if the person under 15 years is always working in:

  • an office in that area, or
  • any part of that area used only for selling goods or services.

Using tractors or other vehicles

As an employer, or someone hiring a contractor, you must make sure that any worker under 15 years old does not:

  • drive any tractor and any vehicle, other than a car, truck, motorcycle or machinery that weighs 700 kilograms or less
  • ride on any vehicle when it’s towing or is attached to anything
  • ride on anything towed by or attached to any vehicle.

An employee must have a current driver's licence before driving any motor vehicle on a road. A road includes any car park, yard, or other part of a workplace that has public vehicle access.

There is a special exception for the agricultural sector which allows young people doing contract work who are over the age of 12 years old to use a tractor for contract agricultural work if:

  • they are fully trained or being trained, or
  • they live on the property.

Apprentices and trainees

Employees under 18 years old

You cannot employ anybody aged less than 18 years to work in:

  • any restricted area of a licensed premises while that area is open for the sale of liquor – unless they are employed preparing or serving any meal, cleaning, repairing, maintaining, altering or restocking the area of any equipment, removing or replacing any equipment, stocktaking, or checking or removing cash
  • direct access to gaming machines in gaming venues like bars, taverns and clubs
  • the sex industry.

Settlement agreements

People aged 16 or 17 years may sign settlement agreements to resolve a dispute with an employer. These agreements will still be final and binding. If the employee is under 16, a guardian can sign the agreement on their behalf.

Employees under 20 years old

Under 20-year-olds cannot:

  • work in parts of casinos where gambling takes place, or
  • undertake any gambling-related duties.

The government offers help to employers to hire, train and progress young people in employment.

  • Flexi-wage is a wage subsidy available for employers to hire people on a benefit.

Flexi-wage(external link)

  • Work and Income offers a range of support for employers.

Work and Income(external link)

  • Te Pukenga offers a range of training and wage subsidies.

Te Pukenga(external link)

  • Māori and Pasifika Trades Training supports young people to take up trades, in regions that have a significant population of Māori and Pasifika.

Māori and Pasifika Trades Training(external link)

  • Work and Income's Skills for Industry programme can help with pre-job training to meet business needs, like driver training and pre-trades training that provides a pathway to apprenticeships.

Work and Income's Skills for Industry(external link)

  • Skills Highway is a government-funded programme that helps employers to provide literacy and numeracy support to workers and industry trainees.

Skills Highway(external link)

  • Youth Guarantee website initiatives to improve young people’s transition from school to further study, training and employment.

Youth Guarantee website(external link)

  • Work and Income (Job search) can organise work placements for their job seekers for up to 4 weeks.

Work and Income (Job search)(external link)

  • Callaghan Innovation can subsidise summer placements for tertiary students at businesses that carry out research and development.

Callaghan Innovation(external link)

  • Te Puni Kōkiri's cadetships programme works with employers to offer cadetships in growth industries to provide Māori with the opportunity to gain work experience, obtain qualifications and build industry networks.

Te Puni Kōkiri's cadetships programme(external link)

  • Limited Services Volunteer (LSV) programme helps young people get ready for work. Work and Income helps businesses to employ LSV graduates with a support package that can include wage subsidies, training, mentoring and in-work help.

Limited Services Volunteer (LSV) programme(external link)

  • Published:
  • Last modified:
  • Written for: Employers
  • Share this page:
  • Print this page: