Sex workers

Changing jobs

Stopping sex work – it’s your choice

Prostitution Reform Act 2003, ss 16–18

You can stop doing sex work any time you want. It’s illegal for someone to force you to do or continue doing sex work. They also can’t force you to stop, as long as you are over 18 and not on a temporary visa.

No stand-down when you go on a benefit

Prostitution Reform Act 2003, s 18

If you stop doing sex work and apply to Work and Income to go on a benefit, you won’t have to go through a stand-down period before you start getting your benefit payments.

This is different from the usual rule that applies – most people have a stand-down of one to two weeks before they start getting the benefit (for more information about benefit stand-downs periods, see: “Dealing with Work and Income”).

Coming off a benefit or ACC – you can’t be pressured back into sex work

Prostitution Reform Act 2003, s 18

If Work and Income or ACC are trying to help you get off a benefit or ACC compensation and back into work, they can’t pressure you to go back to sex work if you don’t want to.

Getting support from the NZPC

If you need support dealing with Work and Income when you stop doing sex work, contact the NZPC. They know a lot about the laws in this area, and they can even come with you to see Work and Income. See: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page for their contact details.

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Starting and leaving a job

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

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

Phone: 0800 20 90 20
Starting a job:
Leaving a job:

Te Kauae Kaimahi/
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Te Kauae Kaimahi 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.

Phone: (04) 385 1334

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is 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

Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG)

UNEMIG or Union Network of Migrants is an association of migrant workers within FIRST Union.

Phone: 0800 863 477

Migrant Workers Association

The Migrant Workers Association NZ fights for migrant workers’ rights and against injustice and exploitation in the workplace.

Phone: 0800 863 477

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