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Minimum Wage – Employment New Zealand

Minimum wage

Minimum wage rates apply to all employees aged 16 and over, who are full-time, part-time, fixed-term, casual, working from home, and paid by wages, salary, commission or piece rates (some exceptions).

The minimum wage applies to all hours worked. There is no minimum hours requirement. For example, an employee who works only 2 hours at a time must still get the minimum wage for each of these hours, unless the employee and employer have agreed to a higher rate in the employment agreement. Payments for call-outs should also be negotiated in the employment agreement.

Employees have to be paid at least the minimum hourly wage rate for every hour worked:

  • Salaried employees can divide their pay by the number of hours they work in a pay period to make sure they earn the minimum wage.
  • Wage earners can check that their hourly rate is at least the minimum wage and that any extra hours they’re asked to work are also paid at least the minimum wage. Employers and employees may agree to any wage rate as long as it’s not less than the relevant minimum wage rate. For example, starting-out workers must be paid at least the minimum starting-out wage rate, and trainees over 20 must be paid at least the training minimum wage rate.
  • Employees paid piece rates must still be paid the minimum wage for each hour worked.
  • The minimum wage does not apply to people who have a minimum wage exemption permit.

Types of wage rates

There are three different types of minimum wage rates: adult, starting-out and training.

Current minimum wage rates

Minimum wage rates are set by the government and are reviewed each year.


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4000 more trade training places to be available for college students

The Government will fund up to 4000 more trades training places for high schoolers from next year.

A full 2000 will be Trades Academies places, which allow high school students at risk of dropping out to mix tertiary-level trades training into the regular curriculum. Up to 2000 will be Gateway places, which integrate job-based trades training into the high school curriculum.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement at Heretaunga College in the Upper Hutt on Monday morning, underlining that it was the first increase in Gateway places since the last time Labour was in Government.

The increase will come at a cost of roughly $27m.

“We are committed to reversing the long-term decline in trades training. Trades skills shortages is a key issue business regularly raise with me and this programme is one step in the Government’s plan to plug that gap,” Ardern said.

She told the students at the school that New Zealand had to stop valuing those who went to university over those who went into the trades.

“We should value the people who build things, who make things, who make this country keep running.”

The Government has long-championed its desire to see more young people in trades training, partially as a response to dismal business confidence surveys.

It’s “fees-free” programme covers two years of apprentice training but only one year of academic study.

Near-full employment in recent years has often made it difficult for employers to find labour, particularly in construction.

Hipkins said funding had been allowed to fall away for vocational training in recent years.

“An evaluation of Gateway in the early 2000s showed that more than 70 per cent of employers reported several benefits from their involvement with Gateway and 81 per cent of students reported that their involvement with Gateway helped with their future plans,” Hipkins said.

“Despite their success, over recent years funding for Trades Academies and Gateway has been allowed to lag behind demand.”

He said it was key that high schools themselves remained linked in with vocational education.

“We want schools better linked to the world of work, and for students in school to have clearer and more direct pathways into vocational education in the workplace and the tertiary system.”

Currently there are just over 7000 Trades Academies places and 14,000 Gateway places funded.

Hipkins is currently undertaking a massive reform of vocational tertiary education, absorbing every polytech into a single national entity.



Decisions on reforming vocational education

On 1 August 2019, the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, announced the Government’s decisions on the Reform of Vocational Education proposals. The reforms aim to create a strong, unified, sustainable system for all vocational education that delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

The new system will have a stronger focus on employers, delivering the skills they need, providing more support for their employees, and ensuring greater consistency in vocational education across the country. Longer term, this will increase the number of employers who are engaged in vocational education.

Learners will receive more support while they are training, and vocational education that is more relevant to work. They will be able to move more easily between regions and between work-based and provider-based training, and will be able to continue training more easily if their employment situation changes.

Work-integrated learning will become an increasingly important part of the vocational education system, giving people the opportunity and flexibility to earn while they learn and gain an education that is more directly relevant to the changing needs of the workplace.

A unified vocational education system will bring together industry and educators to make sure New Zealand’s workforce is fit for today’s needs and tomorrow’s expectations.

Read more about the Reform of Vocational Education pages on the Kōrero Mātauranga website including:

  • Summary of change decisions
  • Information sheets for learners, stakeholders and employers
  • Papers and briefings that relate to the Reform of Vocational Education
  • FAQs

Reform of Vocational Education – Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation Website

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact the Reform of Vocational Education mailbox:

Job Roles That Are Hard To Fill In New Zealand!

The top 20 hardest-to-fill roles in New Zealand

SEEK data reveals the roles that are the hardest to fill in New Zealand. Two industries make up the lion’s share of the list – how can hiring managers and recruiters tackle the challenge?

Even the most sophisticated recruitment strategies can struggle to attract a wealth of candidates to certain roles. Some positions are simply more challenging to fill than others and SEEK data shows they are likely to exist in two key sectors.

New Zealand’s hardest-to-fill roles

The latest data reveals that two industries dominate the list of hard-to-fill roles – Healthcare & Medical and Legal. What’s happening within these industries and which roles are proving the most challenging?

The chart below details the roles that were hardest-to-fill in 2018, based on candidate application numbers, compared to the same time the previous year. An easing trend indicates a market with more candidates, while a tightening trend indicates a market with fewer candidates. A stable trend indicates a market with no change in the volume of candidates available.

Source: SEEK Employment Report 2018 vs 2017

Supply versus demand

Roles are often hard to fill when demand exceeds supply. Resources in New Zealand’s healthcare industry, for example, are under pressure due to the growing ageing population. The number of people aged 65 and over has doubled since 1980 and is predicted to double again by 2036. Dan Hobson, Director – Hobson Health Recruitment, says healthcare represents a candidate-short market. “A lot of roles in the industry are hard to fill because of the imbalance between supply and demand,” he says. “Employers are really having to work a bit harder to attract talent.”

Meanwhile, the legal industry is also experiencing a surge in demand and the 2018 Hays Job Report for New Zealand notes a candidate shortage across the sector.

Emily McCarthy, Principal and Head of Secondments at Lexvoco, which provides lawyers on contract and secondment to leading organisations in countries such as New Zealand and Australia, expects this trend to continue throughout 2019.

“There are other reasons why legal roles can be hard to fill,” she says. “The legal industry has a reputation for being inflexible and in a time where people are looking for flexibility in their careers, any lack of flexibility is a real deterrent to making a change.”

A diagnosis for the healthcare sector

SEEK’s data shows roles for Nursing – Midwifery, Neo-Natal, SCN & NICU are the hardest to fill. The trend is also tightening with a 5% decrease in applications per advertised role.

Hobson says candidates for these roles are “always in demand”. “The ratio of qualified midwifes to registered nurses is low,” he says. “It’s a very specialised area of nursing.”

A number of other nursing roles are proving hard to fill. These include Nursing – Management, Nursing Psych, Forensic & Correctional Health and Nursing – A&E, Critical Care & ICU. Nursing represents the largest occupational group within New Zealand’s healthcare sector and the workforce is ageing. Looking back to a study four years ago, research from Health Workforce New Zealand showed the average age of nurses in the country was 46.3 years. It also noted that the risk of staff shortages becomes greater as the proportion of experienced nurses approaching retirement increases. This is a particular issue in specialty areas with the highest average ages, such as palliative care (for which the average age of nurses is 52 years) and mental health (for which the average age is 51 years).

Trends in the legal industry

SEEK’s data shows roles in Construction Law are proving difficult to fill. Supply versus demand has been easing however, with an increase in applications of 37.1% per advertised role.

McCarthy credits the infrastructure boom for the growth in demand. “We are seeing an increased need for property lawyers which is also quite challenging to fill due to the decline in the commercial property market.”

Roles in Insurance & Superannuation Law and Industrial Relations & Employment Law also make the list. Corporate and Commercial Law roles are also hard to fill; and the trend continues to tighten with applications per advertised role decreasing by 7.8%.

Overcoming the challenge

With a number of roles across the Healthcare & Medical and Legal industries more challenging to fill than other, experts say employers need to look beyond base salary to attract the best talent.

“Healthcare candidates are attracted to a positive and supportive workplace, as their day-to-day work can be tough,” says Hobson. “Employers should highlight their culture and values when they promote their brand in the market.”

Hobson adds that career development and flexibility are also highly valued by healthcare candidates. “Candidates for specialist roles can demand opportunities such as career development and can also negotiate for perks such as relocation fees,” he says. “Employers need to be prepared for this.”

Find out more about what New Zealand candidates want. Visit SEEK Laws of Attraction.

McCarthy says flexible working arrangements can also attract candidates in the legal profession. “There has not been a lot of flexibility in traditional law firms, but we know that this is something that more lawyers want. By utilising the gig economy, we are able to offer lawyers the type of work they want, when they want it.”

McCarthy adds that career development is also highly valued. Lexvoco, which employs more than 100 people, provides access to educational webinars, industry meet ups and networking events. “Lawyers also want career progression and we offer them an opportunity to diversify their in-house experience and develop new skills. We’re also a leader in legal technology, so we ensure Lexvoco lawyers know that they will have the opportunity to expand their skillset.”