Who is an employee

An employee is a person who has agreed to be employed to work for some form of payment under a contract of service.

Payment under a contract of service can include wages, salary, commission and piece rates.

Employees include:

  • people who have been offered and have accepted a job, but are yet to start working
  • permanent employees (full-time and part-time)
  • fixed-term employees (full-time and part-time)
  • casual employees
  • homeworkers
  • seasonal employees
  • employees on probationary and trial periods
  • employees in a triangular employment situation.

An employee is not:

  • a self-employed or independent contractor
  • a volunteer who does not receive a reward for working
  • a sharemilker
  • a real estate agent whose agreement says they are an independent contractor
  • in some cases, a person who works in film production.

This statement sets out the Labour Inspectorate’s position on work in a business operation without payment of wages.

Labour Inspectorate Position Statement – Work In A Business Operation Without Payment of Wages [PDF 199KB]

Types of employee

There are several types of employee.

Contractor versus employee

Employees and contractors have different rights and responsibilities.


A volunteer is not an employee and therefore is not covered by employment law.

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