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Different types of employment agreements and arrangements

Casual work arrangements

Your rights as a casual worker

An employee and an employer can agree to a casual employment relationship, where the work is intermittent and irregular.

If you’re a casual employee, your employer doesn’t have to offer you any work and you don’t have to accept any offer. If you work for the employer on one occasion, you have no guarantee of being rehired later on.

Being a casual employee may affect your employment in other specific areas. For example, casual employees can agree to receive their annual holiday pay on a “pay as you go” basis (see When will I be paid my annual holiday pay?” in the chapter “Employment conditions and protections”).

Note: For laws about “zero-hour” contracts and availability clauses, see the chapter “Employment conditions and protections”, under “Hours, shifts and breaks”.

Identifying whether you’re a casual or permanent worker

If there’s doubt about whether you’re a casual or permanent employee, the key factors in deciding this will be how regular and how continuous the work is. This can be assessed by looking at both of the following:

  • Your employment agreement – Does it include terms that are inconsistent with casual employment? For example, it may require you to take work when it’s offered, or stop you from working for other employers, or require you to tell your employer when you’re not available for work.
  • The behaviour of the two parties – Has this created a fair and reasonable (“legitimate”) expectation that more work will be offered, or that it will be accepted if it’s offered? For example, if you’ve been working a regular 30-hour week for six months, you might have a legitimate expectation of further work.

Whether you’re a casual employee or permanent employee will depend on the real nature of your employment relationship, not simply on the words (such as “casual” or “permanent”) that you and your employer have used to describe it. If your work is regular and ongoing, it is more likely that you’re a permanent employee.

If your employer calls you a “casual” employee but you’re wondering if you might really be a permanent employee, you can get advice from your union or local community law centre.

Note: If as a casual employee you’ve been offered and have accepted work (for example, you’ve been rostered on for particular days), then an employment relationship now exists. This means your employer will need a legitimate reason if they no longer want you to work those days and will also have to follow a correct process, as with any other employee.

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Starting and leaving a job

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal information, advice and education about employment law issues.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment


The Employment website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment publishes a range of publications on employment relations and minimum rights at work.

Free phone: 0800 20 90 20, for general enquiries about employment relations, pay and holidays.

For translated employment information go to www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/rights-and-responsibilities/minimum-rights-of-employees-translations/#minimum

Reporting migrant exploitation


Make a complaint to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment about migrant exploitation with this online form.

If you need help completing the form or would like to speak to an interpreter, call 0800 200 088 between 8:00am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. You will be connected with an interpreter after you say the name of the language you speak.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Te Kauae Kaimahi


Phone: (04) 385 1334
Email: info@nzctu.org.nz

The NZCTU is the umbrella body for affiliated unions covering every job and industry in New Zealand. It can provide information about which union may cover the type of work you do.

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective


A nationwide organisation run by sex workers for sex workers. They provide information and services for people who are doing sex work or thinking about doing sex work.

Phone (04) 382 8791
Mobile and media inquiries: 027 496 0700
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz

Migrant worker organisations

Union Network of Migrants – UNEMIG


Part of FIRST Union

Phone: 0800 863477

Migrant Workers Association


Email: help@migrantworkers.org.nz

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