Is Your Work for Accommodation and Pay in New Zealand a Fair Deal?
Having an accommodation-provided job is a great way to avoid the stress of finding accommodation for the duration of your employment. Accommodation is usually conveniently located close to your work and shared with co-workers. However, some employers may blur the lines on whether your accommodation and wage deal is fair or not and complies with New Zealand employment laws. For this reason, we have put together this guide to your rights when working for accommodation and pay in New Zealand. The important thing to remember is that the value of your work for accommodation and pay should be at least the value of minimum wage in New Zealand.
Once you’ve wised up to your rights for accommodation-provided jobs in New Zealand, take a look at work for accommodation and pay listings on the NZ Pocket Guide Job Board.
A Quick Introduction to Accommodation-Provided Jobs in New Zealand
Some paid jobs in New Zealand have accommodation provided. This can mean a number of different things: either you are paid a full wage but are offered discounted accommodation in your employer’s chosen accommodation, accommodation is provided with the accommodation cost deducted from your wages, or accommodation is provided for free. If it is unclear on the job listing how the accommodation is provided, then be sure to ask the questions before taking the job offer. It is common practice for some jobs to have accommodation included, especially in New Zealand’s hospitality and farming industries.
How you are offered the accommodation as part of your job must be agreed upon in writing, usually via a tenancy agreement or an accommodation agreement. Be aware that the accommodation and wage offered cannot be equal to below the minimum wage. The current minimum wage in New Zealand can be found on the Employment New Zealand website run by the New Zealand Government.
Do You Need a Visa to Work for Accommodation-Provided Jobs in New Zealand?
To work for payment and/or accommodation in New Zealand you will need a valid work visa. The most common visa people get while travelling in New Zealand is a Working Holiday Visa. However, any other work visa is usually valid too. The work conditions, i.e. how long you can work in New Zealand, whether you can accept a permanent or fixed-term job, etc., are made very clear when you receive your visa.
For more information on the Working Holiday Visa, see The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa: Everything You Need to Know!
Can You Work for Accommodation on a Visitor Visa?
If you are in New Zealand on a Visitor Visa or the NZeTA, you cannot legally work for payment and/or accommodation. See Visitor Visa: Do You Need a Visa to Visit New Zealand? and A Complete Guide to the New Zealand eTA & Visitor Levy (NZeTA & IVL) for more details.
If you’re just looking to work solely in exchange for accommodation, be sure to check out our guide to Working for Accommodation in New Zealand: What are Your Rights?
What are Your Rights to Working for Accommodation and Pay?
New Zealand employment laws establish a few minimum employment rights for workers, which include employees who receive both accommodation and a wage.
The Choice of Accommodation and Pay or Pay Only
Before you start working with your employer, you must be offered a choice of either working for a wage with accommodation costs deducted or a full wage that is at least minimum wage. Under the New Zealand Minimum Wage Act 1983, you are entitled to a full wage with only a 5% deduction for lodging for your labour, unless you and your host have both agreed on a fair contract. See more about that in the section below.
For more about wage deductions for accommodation and food, take a look at Working for Accommodation & Food in New Zealand: What are Your Rights?
Deducting Accommodation Costs from Pay
The value of the accommodation should not be lower than the value of your work at the minimum wage. The current minimum wage in New Zealand on the Employment New Zealand website run by the New Zealand Government. Therefore, if you work for accommodation for two hours per day at minimum wage, your reward (in this case, your accommodation) must be of a minimum value of “minimum wage x 2” for accommodation.
Employment Trial Periods
Employers in New Zealand can voluntarily give employees a trial period of up to 90 days, only if it has been agreed in writing in the Employment Agreement (see the section below about employment agreements).
If you are dismissed during this period you cannot raise a personal grievance (official complaint) on the grounds that you think the dismissal was unjustified. You can, however, raise a personal grievance on other grounds, such as discrimination, harassment or unjustified action by the employer.
Minimum Wage in New Zealand
The minimum wage in New Zealand is reviewed every year, and you can view the current minimum wage on the New Zealand Employment website run by the New Zealand Government. This is the minimum pay before tax.
The minimum wage also applies to piece rates which is the money paid to an employee per fruit picked or garments produced, for example. Even if you are paid by the piece, you should still not get paid less than the minimum wage. Learn more about piece rates in the context of fruit picking in our guide to the Apple Picking Season in New Zealand.
Rest and Meal Breaks at Work
You are entitled to rest and meal breaks on which you can rest and take care of personal matters. There are no specific rules about the length and time of breaks. The common practice in New Zealand is a 30-minute unpaid meal break and 10-15-minute paid rest breaks after every four hours worked, for example. These rest and meal break duration and frequency should be outlined in your Employment Agreement.
Holidays: Getting Paid When Taking Time Off Work
You get holiday pay of 8% of your gross earnings at the end of your employment, minus any holiday pay you received during your employment.
A similar deal is given to those on a fixed-term agreement (i.e. seasonal work, such as working for just the winter season, or picking season, for example) and for irregular and intermittent work, where it may be agreed to add 8% holiday pay to the gross weekly earnings.
You are entitled to the relevant or average daily pay on a public holiday if you would usually be working on that day. Some jobs will require you to work on a public holiday, in which case you should be paid at least time-and-a-half (1.5 times your hourly rate) for the time worked that day.
Sick Leave in New Zealand
Five days of sick pay is entitled only after six months of working for one employer. You will get paid the relevant or average daily pay for sick leave.
For a more in-depth look into these rights, especially for those on a working holiday, see our guide, New Zealand Working Holiday Employment Rights.
Do You Need a Contract to Work for Accommodation and Pay?
For any paid work in New Zealand, there must be an Employment Agreement. That way, you know what you are getting yourself in for and reduce the risk of misunderstandings.
A number of minimum conditions will be outlined in the agreement, but even if they are not outlined, some conditions must still be met. These conditions are discussed in this article and in-depth on the Employment New Zealand website. Employers must keep a copy of the agreement to which you are entitled to get copies on request.
Accommodation and Work Contract
When accommodation is provided with the work, there must be a dedicated Accommodation Agreement. This must be separate from the Employment Agreement or able to be separated. Relevant agreements must be either a Tenancy Agreement (when your employer is the landlord of the accommodation) or an Accommodation Agreement (when staying in a property like a motel, for instance). When referring to accommodation, the contract will likely say “lodging”. Lodging is another word for “accommodation”.
The contract must display that you have the option to either work for lodging and pay or be paid a stated wage. The contract must also state how many average hours you will be expected to work. For example, your work for accommodation contract could include a section like this:
The first two hours of work each day are to be compensated by: (Check your chosen option)
- Lodging: Private room (valued at NZ$…) or an
- Hourly Wage of NZ$…
Finally, accommodation must meet healthy home standards, for instance, regarding insulation. Find out more on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website.
Do You Need to Pay Taxes When Doing Accommodation-Included Jobs?
When you are proposed a wage in New Zealand, keep in mind that the wage is usually before deductions, such as income tax. The tax deduction is known as PAYE (Pay As You Earn). How much you earn determines how much is deducted. You can find out more about that in our guide to the New Zealand Work Tax System. The value of your accommodation will also be included in the PAYE tax. Find out more on the IRD’s Tax Implications for Working for Accommodation page.
Fill out the Tax Code Declaration (IR330) form given to you by your employer to make sure the correct tax deductions are made. You will need an IRD number for this (find out how to get an IRD Number in our guide, What is an IRD Number?)
A small portion of this deduction is the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) levy, which is an insurance system covering the costs if you are injured and off work for an extended period. You can learn more about what healthcare you are entitled to in New Zealand in A Traveller’s Guide to Healthcare in New Zealand.
The PAYE tax is required by law so the employer does not need your consent for these deductions, however, your written consent is needed for any other deductions made to your wage.
More About Working for Accommodation and Pay in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide to your rights when working for accommodation and pay in New Zealand, but it’s by no means the end of our advice! If you have more doubts, check out the guides below:
- New Zealand Working Holiday Employment Rights
- How to Find Work for Accommodation in New Zealand
- How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Everything You Need to Know About WWOOFing in New Zealand.