Home | Browse Topics | Jobs & benefits | Starting and leaving a job | Starting work and negotiating an agreement

Jobs & benefits

Starting work and negotiating an agreement

Choosing between collective or individual agreements

Choosing between a collective or individual agreement when you start work

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 56(1), 62–63B

If there’s a collective agreement in your workplace when you start work and you already belong to the relevant union, then you’ll be covered by this agreement automatically.

If you don’t belong to the union, the employer must tell you about the collective agreement. You then have 30 days to decide whether to join the union and come under the collective, or whether to negotiate a different individual agreement instead. In the meantime, during the 30 days, you’ll be covered by an individual agreement that includes the same terms as the collective agreement.

If at the end of the 30 days you decide you don’t want to join the union, you and the employer can mutually agree to change the individual agreement that was based on the collective agreement in the workplace.

If there’s no collective agreement, then you’ll be on an individual employment agreement. The terms of your individual agreement will be whatever you negotiate with your employer.

If I’m under a collective agreement, can I still negotiate terms as an individual?

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 61

You as an individual can negotiate your own additional terms while still being part of the collective agreement, as long as the additional terms aren’t inconsistent with the collective agreement. This means that the additional terms must deal with issues not covered by the collective agreement, or must be better than the minimum terms in the collective agreement.

Did this answer your question?

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: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

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.

Website: www.employment.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 20 90 20
Starting a job: www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/
Leaving a job: www.employment.govt.nz/ending-employment/

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.

Website: www.union.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
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.

Website: www.nzpc.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
Phone: 04 382 8791
Instagram: www.instagram.com/_nzpc/

Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG)

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

Website: www.unemig.org.nz
Email: unemig@firstunion.org.nz 
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.

Website: migrantworkers.org.nz
Email: help@migrantworkers.org.nz
Phone: 0800 863 477
Facebook: www.facebook.com/migrantworkersassociationaotearoa/

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top