Flexible working

Overview of the laws on flexible working

All employees can ask for work flexibility

Employment Relations Act 2000, Part 6AA

All employees have the right to ask their employer for permanent or long-term changes to their working arrangements. This can be about when they do their work (which days or hours) or where they do their work (for example, working from home), or both.

Your employer has to follow a set process when they respond to your request, including replying in writing within a set time. If they don’t follow this process, you can get help from a government labour inspector and, if necessary, go to the Employment Relations Authority.

The law also says your employer can refuse your request only if they can’t “accommodate” the changes you’re asking for – in other words, that they can’t make the changes fit with the business’s operations. However, you can’t legally challenge their decision if you disagree with them about this.

Victims of family violence: Stronger rights for short-term flexibility

Employment Relations Act 2000, Part 6AB

If you’re a victim of family violence you have a special right to ask for short-term flexibility in your work arrangements. Your employer has to follow a set process in responding to your request.

Compared with other employees, you also have stronger rights to make sure your employer makes a fair decision. If your employer refuses your request saying they can’t accommodate the short-term changes you want, and you think their refusal is unreasonable, you can take legal action against them.

If you’re in this situation, contact a government labour inspector and, if necessary, the Employment Relations Authority to enforce your rights.

Note: If you’re treated unfairly by your boss because you’re a victim of family violence, you may be able to take legal action against them in the form of a “personal grievance”: see the chapter “Resolving employment problems”.

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Employment conditions and protections

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and, depending on your situation, may also be able to provide ongoing support.

“Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options during and after pregnancy” (booklet)

This booklet contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law, and includes information on sexual health and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, healthcare, education, housing and more.

Order hard copies from:

Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley

Phone (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz or visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free online

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment


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

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

Labour inspectors

Labour inspectors monitor and enforce minimum employment conditions. To refer a problem to a labour inspector, you contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment on:

Free phone 0800 20 90 20

Worksafe New Zealand, Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa


Free phone: 0800 030 040

Worksafe New Zealand’s website has a range of information and publications on workplace health and safety issues.

Parental leave payments


The Inland Revenue website has information on parental leave payments.

Whistle-blowing (“Protected disclosures” by employees)


Free phone: 0800 802 602
Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz

The Office of the Ombudsman provides information and guidance to employees about making a protected disclosure.

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.

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