Minimum Pay & Employment Rights For Temporary & Casual Staff

Guide to Minimum Pay & Employment Rights For Temporary & Casual Staff

If you’re a manager hiring temporary or casual staff, it’s likely that understanding minimum pay and employment rights can be a pain point for you. 

Every staff member you hire requires  HR documents, customised written agreements and payroll to be managed. 

On top of that, the guidelines for how to pay staff appropriately can come across quite vague–particularly when it comes to breaks, overtime and leave. 

Understanding what to pay temp and casual staff can be even more daunting when it’s for roles you don’t usually hire for.

As the employers of over 2,000 casual staff in New Zealand, here at Sidekicker we understand that interpreting pay and employment rights can be stressful. 

This quick guide we’ve put together disseminates some of this information and will provide you with an overview of the minimum wages and rights of temp and casual employees in New Zealand.

But first, let’s look at what the definition of a temporary & casual employee is:

A casual employee is anyone who has agreed to be employed, under a contract of service, to work for some form of hourly payment.

A casual employee will work on an ‘as required’ basis with no expectation of ongoing employment. They also have no obligation to accept work if it is offered to them.

According to the Employment Agreement Builder, a casual role can be defined by 4 key areas:


  • The employee can start and end work at their desired time as long as they work a minimum amount of hours

Agreed hours

  • The shift start and end times are agreed upon

Rostered Shifts

  • The shifts are defined in a roster, on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis

As required

  • The employer must give reasonable notice when asking an employee to work and the employee may choose whether to accept or decline the work.


The Minimum Wage in New Zealand

The minimum wage in New Zealand currently sits at $17.70 an hour. This minimum wage rate is mandatory for all employees over the age of 16, across all industries–whether full-time, part-time, fixed-term, casual or working from home.

How do you know when to pay above the minimum wage in New Zealand?

There are no official documented guidelines on what to pay casual and temp staff for different roles in New Zealand.

Businesses choose at their own discretion how much to pay employees based on their experience, qualifications and the competitive market rate for the skillsets required.

In New Zealand, we work closely with businesses and staff to understand wage expectations based on experience, expertise and training.

We encourage businesses to pay staff with rates higher than the minimum wage to reward high performance and reliability.


Breaks are not only an entitlement for staff under the Employment Relations Act, but they are also vital to the high performance and safety of your staff.

Under section 69ZD of the Employment Relations Act 2000, New Zealand employees are entitled to:

  • One 10-minute paid rest break during a work period of between 2 hours and 4 hours;
  • One 10-minute paid rest break and one 30-minute meal break (unpaid unless agreed otherwise) during a work period of between 4 hours and 6 hours;
  • Two 10-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break (unpaid unless agreed otherwise) during a work period of between 6 hours and 8 hours; and
  • If an employee works for a period of more than 8 hours, the requirements apply as if their work period had started again at the end of the eighth hour.

You can read more information about employee break entitlements here.

The Crackdown from the Employment Relations Authority

If you head over to the news on Employment New Zealand you’ll notice this government organisation has been cracking down on the misclassification and underpayment of casual staff, fining businesses tens of thousands of dollars in penalties.

Your employees are one of your most important assets, without them you don’t have a business.

It’s integral to not only pay them fairly because it’s what is the right thing to do but because it’s also illegal not to.

Still confused minimum pay and employment rights for your staff?

Sidekicker is an on-demand staffing platform that connects 4000+ businesses like Spark Arena with over 11,000 quality casual and temporary staff.

All staff are employed by us, meaning we take care of all the admin associated with payroll.

So any time you need to scale up your workforce due to seasonality or absenteeism, you don’t need to think twice about compliance.


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