Minimum rights of employees

The minimum rights of an employee are the responsibility of the employer. These protect employees at work.

All employees, full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed-term or casual, are entitled to a copy of their (individual or collective) employment agreement in writing. The employment agreement must have terms and conditions which are at least as good as the minimum rights in the law.

Employment learning modules

Learn about your rights and responsibilities as employees and employers through Employment Learning Modules. It’s free to access the modules.

The ‘An Introduction To Your Employment Rights’ module – a quick summary to employment rights – is also available in seven other languages:

  • Māori - Me mōhio ki ō motika whiwhinga mahi
  • Simplified Chinese (您的就业权利简介)
  • Hindi (रोज़गार के अधिकारों का परिचय)
  • Korean (피고용인의 권리 안내)
  • Samoan (Se faatomuaga i aiātatau faalegaluega)
  • Tagalog (Panimula sa Iyong mga Karapatan sa Trabaho)
  • Tongan - 'Ilo'i 'a ho'o ngaahi totonu 'i he ngāue'anga

Sign up to Employment Learning Modules (external link)

Quick guide: Know your employment rights

We have created a simplified overview of some of the key minimum employee rights.

Know your employment rights [PDF 305KB] 

Also available in other languages

Know your employment rights – other language translations

Minimum rights and responsibilities

Minimum rights and responsibilities set out in law apply to all employees, even if:

  • they’re not in your employment agreement, or
  • your employment agreement tries to trade some off against each other, or
  • your employment agreement tries to make you get less than these minimums, or
  • you don't have an employment agreement (although your employer is required to give you one).

The law protects an employee at work by:

  • setting the minimum rights of an employee
  • making sure that all employees are safe at work and not unlawfully discriminated against, bullied or harassed
  • making sure that the employer acts in good faith, (the employee has to as well).

Minimum employment rights and responsibilities has more on minimum employment rights:

Minimum employment rights and responsibilities [PDF 670KB]

Also available in other languages

Minimum employment rights and responsibilities – other language translations

Contact us for help if you believe you may not have received your minimum employment rights, or would like to learn more about your rights.

Minimum rights vs negotiable terms and conditions

The following table has some of the minimum entitlements, and lists some examples of where employers and employees have negotiated better terms and conditions in their employment agreements.

Minimum rights Examples of negotiated rights
Four weeks’ paid annual holiday per year Extra annual holidays above four weeks eg five weeks
12 public holidays per year Extra holidays eg company holidays, Dominion day
Payment of time and a half for working on public holidays Higher rates for working on public holidays eg double time

10 days’ paid sick leave per annum after first 6 months, and 10 days can be carried over to a maximum of 20 days

Note: Minimum sick leave entitlements increased from 5 to 10 days per year from 24 July 2021. Employees get the extra five days per year when they reach their next entitlement date. This will be either after reaching 6 months’ employment or on their sick leave entitlement anniversary (12 months after they were last entitled to sick leave).

More than 10 days’ paid sick leave, no need to wait for six months, more than 10 days’ carry over
Three days’ paid bereavement leave for certain family members, one day for other people More than three days’ paid bereavement leave
Up to 52 weeks’ parental leave Comprehensive parental leave entitlements which are more generous
Rest and meal breaks must be provided - Rest break must be paid More frequent or longer rest breaks, meal break is also paid
Relevant minimum wage must be paid Wages and salary rates above the minimum wage
Overtime paid at minimum wage per hour Overtime at more than minimum wage
Payment of wages to be made in cash Frequency of paydays and how payment is made
Unpaid leave for jury service Normal pay while on jury service

Other areas where minimum rights apply

  • Employment agreements
  • Employment relationship problems
  • Pay and employment equity
  • Fixed-term employees
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Health and safety
  • Keeping accurate records for holidays and leave, and wages and time
  • Trial periods
  • Unions

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Page last revised: 22 December 2023

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