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Working for a labour-hire agency: “Triangular employment”

Protections for employees of labour-hire companies

A common work arrangement these days is for a worker to be employed by a temporary employment agency – often also called a “labour-hire” agency – and to be hired out short-term to other employers.

It’s called “triangular” employment because there are three parts to the arrangement:

  • you the worker, who’s employed by
  • the labour-hire agency, who hires you out to
  • another company (the “host business”), such as a construction company.

Your employment contract is with the labour-hire agency, not the construction company, so the agency is legally your “employer”. But even so, while you’re hired out you’ll be working under the immediate supervision of the other business, the agency’s client.

If something goes wrong while you’re working for the other firm, the law says that you can take a personal grievance against them even though technically they’re not your employer (because the agency is your employer). For more information on triangular employment, see the chapter “Resolving employment problems”.

Who’s who: “Controlling third parties”

The law calls the host business a “controlling third party” because they’re the third part of the triangle along with you and the agency who employs you, and because they in fact control your day-to-day work, even though they’re not legally your employer.

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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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