Paid workers

An employee is a person employed by an employer to do work for hire or reward under a contract of service, often called an employment agreement.  There are two types of employment agreements: Individual Employment Agreements and Collective Agreements.

Permanent employees

A permanent employee is an employee whose employment does not have an end date. This is the most common form of employment. Permanent employment may cover part time, full time or rostered workers.

Fixed term employees

A fixed term employment agreement lasts for a specified period that is agreed by the employer and the employee. The employee’s end date, the event on which the employment ends, or the project that the person is being employed for must be specified in the employment agreement.

For the fixed term period of the person’s employment, the employee has all the rights and obligations of a permanent employee. If an employee works past the fixed term end date or event and there is no sign of the agreement ending soon, it may be considered a permanent agreement.

Casual employees

In a casual employment arrangement, the worker is only employed on an “as needed” basis. There is no regular work pattern and no expectation of ongoing work for the employee. A casual employee has all the rights and obligations of a normal employee when they are working.

A casual arrangement has the potential to become a permanent agreement if it is determined that the relationship between the employer and employee suggests that the person is actually a permanent employee.

Individual Employment Agreements

An Individual Employment Agreement is negotiated by the employer and employee. An employer must provide the employee with a copy of the Individual Employment Agreement.

An Individual Employment Agreement must include the following, under the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003:

  • the names of the employer and the employee (stated in full)
  • the position that the employee will fill
  • the list of duties and responsibilities of the employee, as set out in the job description
  • an indication of the place(s) of work
  • an indication of the hours and days of work
  • the employee’s salary or wages, and how this will be paid
  • how much the employee is entitled to be paid if they work on a public holiday
  • the employer’s leave policy, including sick leave and bereavement leave
  • provision for how the employee’s job will be affected by a restructuring and/or transfer,[5] such as whether the employee:
    • can negotiate a similar position with a new employer
    • will be made redundant under a redundancy clause
  • a plain language explanation of the services available to resolve employment relationship problems, including:
    • how and when to lodge a personal grievance
    • a reference to the period of 90 days within which a personal grievance must be raised

For assistance with drafting an employment agreement, see the Employment Agreement builder, which is provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Collective Agreements

A Collective Agreement is an agreement negotiated between an employer and a union, and covers the work that is to be performed by the new employee. A collective agreement must include:

  • a coverage clause that identifies the employee positions (and/or types of work) that are covered by the agreement
  • a clause stating how the agreement can be varied
  • an end date, or an event that will trigger the agreement to expire
  • a plain language explanation of the services available to resolve employment relationship problems, including how and when to lodge a personal grievance
  • provision for the employer to, with the employee’s consent, deduct union fees from the salary or wages of the employee who is a member of the union on a regular basis[8]

A Collective Agreement is binding on the employer and the union who are party to the agreement as well as the employees who meet the following requirements:

  • are employees of the employer stated in the Collective Agreement
  • are employees who are members of the union stated in the Collective Agreement
  • are employees whose work is covered by the coverage clause in the Collective Agreement

An employer cannot put undue influence on an employee to either join or not join a union.

An employer should give the employee a reasonable time to seek legal advice about the terms of their employment agreement, even if this is a Collective Agreement.


Pre-recruitment considerations

Defining the role

It is important for a community organisation to define each role they have available for employment before the recruitment process is started. This role description should be included in an employment agreement relevant to the position. A clear description of the role will enable job evaluations and performance management to take place, and will make any amendments to the agreement easier. Any descriptions or changes should be approved by a senior person in the community organisation (e.g. management).

Things to think about when defining a role:

  • Is the role clearly defined?
    • Is each task defined and explained clearly?
    • Does it include information on how each task will be evaluated?
    • Does it explain how the role fits in the context of the community organisation?
  • Has the particular role changed?
    • is there still a requirement for the role?
    • What changes could be made?
  • Are there any additional skills an employer expects from an applicant? (i.e. what new skills are required that the previous employee did not have?)
  • Does the role still reflect the values and principles of the community organisation?


Allocate a budget for the recruitment of employees. The costs associated with recruitment of employees include:

  • the time spent interviewing, training and inducting employees
  • time (or money) spent on reference checks and background checks
  • set up costs such as computers, software licences and business card printing
  • advertisements

Legal requirements

A request for an applicant’s criminal history may be undertaken with the applicant’s permission. It should be noted that:

  • an applicant’s criminal record will only include charges that have resulted in a conviction
  • an individual who has had a minor conviction and has not reoffended for seven consecutive years does not have to declare this information in most circumstances
  • persons convicted of “specified offences”, which includes a range of sexual offences, must declare this information even if they have not reoffended for some time
  • For information about the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 see the relevant section of the Community Law Manual.

The community organisation must not discriminate against applicants. If your community organisation discriminates against applicants on any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination, you could be subject to a complaint under the Human Rights Act 1993. The grounds of prohibited discrimination are:

  • sex
  • marital status
  • religious belief
  • ethical belief
  • colour
  • race
  • ethnic or national origins (including nationality or citizenship)
  • disability (including mental, physical and physiological disability)
  • age
  • political opinion
  • employment status
  • family status
  • sexual orientation

Where an applicant is qualified for work, it is unlawful for an employer or their representative, on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination, to:

  • refuse or omit the applicant on work that is available
  • offer less favourable terms of employment or benefits of employment than those offered to other applicants and/or employees
  • terminate the employment of the employee or subject the employee to detriment
  • retire the employee, or to require or cause the employee to retire or resign

Recruitment process

The first step in the recruitment process is to advertise the position and request that applicants submit their CV and/or complete an application form. Once the application period has closed, the community organisation can commence shortlisting candidates for the position to be interviewed.

Shortlisting candidates

The most efficient method of dealing with a large number of job applications is to shortlist the candidates that the employee wishes to interview for the position. Shortlisting will save time and increase the likelihood of choosing the most suitable person for the role advertised.

The number of shortlisted candidates can be decided by the selection panel based on the number and quality of applications received. Five candidates will generally provide a good base from which they can select the person for the role. Some considerations when shortlisting can include whether the applicant:

  • has the requisite skills and experience required for the role
  • has been hired for a similar role before
  • has the required qualifications, which is particularly important for any specialist positions (e.g. accountants, lawyers or teachers)

Arranging an interview with shortlisted candidates

Once the shortlisting is completed the shortlisted candidates should receive an invitation to interview.

The Interview

Different interviewing techniques may be appropriate depending on the role the community organisation is advertising. If there are several candidates for the same role, the interview technique should be the same for all candidates to ensure that the candidates’ responses and/or conduct can be compared, and so that there is no bias.

Appoint a small interview panel (usually two or three people).

  • When selecting a panel, consideration should be given to gender and cultural balance, and conflict checks conducted to reduce any potential bias in the interview.
  • A decision will need to be made as to how the panel will work together and what internal policies or procedures need to be consulted to guide recruitment.
  • The panel members can agree on roles before the interview, for instance choosing one person to ask the questions and another to take notes.

Interview guidelines

  • welcome the candidate and their support people and introduce the panel. Offer tea or coffee or water, etc.
  • open the interview in a manner that reflects your organisation’s approach to gathering together, then explain the interview process, including how long it will take, and that you are taking notes
  • invite them to ask any questions before the interview begins
  • explain the objectives of the community organisation and what your organisation provides to the community
  • explain the expectations that the community organisation has of the potential employee
  • mention a trial period in the employment agreement (if applicable)
  • interview questions:
    • Career experience: use their CV as a guide.  How will their previous jobs help them in the role offered by the community organisation? What have they struggled with in their previous jobs, and how did they cope with those things? What skills they can improve on for the role that they have applied for?
    • Achievements: What is the candidate proud of? Do they have the relevant qualifications?
    • Skills: Are they a good communicator? Can they work independently and as part of a team? Are they assertive? Are they diligent? Ask the candidate to give examples that demonstrate this. Ask them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses.
    • Problem solving: Pose the candidate particular problems that are likely to come up in the role.
    • Work ethic: Does their work ethic reflect the community organisation’s constitution? Are they likely to contribute positively to the community organisation?
  • discuss the benefits of joining the community organisation including any any benefits aside from the wages / salary (e.g. fringe benefits, bonuses, additional holiday, etc.)
  • invite the candidate to ask questions that they have about the role and/or the community organisation
  • close the interview: explain what will happen next, including when the candidate can expect to hear about the results of the interview, whether there will be a second interview process and whether the candidate is happy for their references to be checked

Reference checks

After the interview, talk to at least two referees, with at least one referee being a current or former employer and another reference being a character reference. Have the candidate’s CV on hand when contacting the referee. When contacting the referee:

  • introduce yourself and let them know what the purpose of the call is
  • briefly describe the role
  • ask them relevant questions about the candidate, such as:
    • how long the candidate has / had worked for them
    • what the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are
    • what their working relationship is like
    • what are some areas for the candidate’s future development
    • would they consider hiring the candidate again in the future
  • ask them if there is anything further to add, or if they have any questions

Offer of employment

If the candidate is successful, they should be notified as soon as possible.  Make a written offer of employment and attach the employment agreement. If there is a trial period in the employment agreement the offer of employment should draw attention to this. In the written offer, it is important to let the candidate know that they must read and agree to the terms of the agreement.

The candidate should also be informed that they are welcome to seek independent advice regarding the employment agreement within a reasonable timeframe.

Unsuccessful candidates

Unsuccessful candidates should be informed by the community organisation. Do this when the successful candidate has officially accepted the offer of employment.

Unsuccessful candidates may be informed by phone or email, but also confirmed in writing. The employer should ask the candidate whether they would like to have their information retained for future opportunities or returned to them. This information should be treated with the utmost care and confidentiality. It should only be stored for six months and then destroyed securely.

Record keeping

Keep records of the steps taken and decisions made in relation to the recruitment and selection process. This can create a base for designing future recruitment processes, but it will also help if someone decides to challenge the process that has been used.

Induction process

Use the induction process to make the new employee feel welcome before starting their new role.

Before induction of an employee

Before the employment period begins, there are several administrative steps that an employer must take:

  • ensure that there is an adequate work station for the new employee
  • set up any email and phone requirements
  • organise passwords, access keys, alarm codes, etc
  • ensure the community organisation has the resources that the employee requires for their work
  • inform the employee of the dress code
  • plan the induction process
  • prepare an induction pack for the employee with:
    • relevant manuals, troubleshooting procedures, useful contact details and answers to frequently asked questions
    • a timetable of any relevant activities or social events
    • a copy of the community organisation’s constitution and code of conduct
  • ensure that all the requisite paperwork is completed:
    • the employment agreement is accepted by the employee and both the employee and the employer retain a signed copy
    • all the requisite IRD documents
    • required documentation for salary / wages and KiwiSaver

Guideline for employee induction

A community organisation may decide on a pōwhiri, mihi whakatau or a morning tea as a way of welcoming a new employee. An employer should introduce the new employee to the other staff members as early as possible. If possible the employer can assign a temporary mentor for the new employee.

A community may decide on a pōwhiri, mihi whakatau or a morning tea as a way of welcoming a new employee.

Estimated timeline for an induction

Settling into a new job can take some time. An induction pack allows the employee to grasp basic procedures independently. Other staff members should be available for more complex issues or questions that the new employee may have. If possible, the employer can assign a mentor for the new employee.

In the first week:

  • go through job description, and explain the employee’s position and duties
  • advise the employee when regular meetings are and where they are held
  • show the employee your business or annual plan
  • discuss all of the policies or procedures relevant to the employee’s position
  • discuss any health or safety issues that the employee may face in their role

In the first month, expect to:

  • discuss any training needs, and start looking at options for training
  • discuss the performance appraisal system with the employee
  • discuss health and safety issues in more depth (e.g. explaining evacuation procedures)