Your pay

Minimum wages

This section explains the minimum standards around how much you get paid, and how those payments are made. It also explains your right to access records of your hours and wages.

Minimum wage for all employees

Who gets the minimum wage?

Minimum Wage Act 1983, ss 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 8, 10 Minimum Wage Order 2021

All employees aged 16 or older have to be paid the minimum wage rate that applies in their case.

If you’re 16 or older, you’re entitled to the adult minimum wage, unless you fall into one of the two categories outlined below.

The current minimum wage for adults is $22.70 per hour.

Minimum wage rates are reviewed each year and usually adjusted.

Minimum wage for “starting-out” or trainee workers

Minimum Wage Act 1983 s 4A-4B Minimum Wage Order 2021

If you’re a “starting-out” worker or a trainee worker, the minimum wage rate is usually 80% of the adult minimum rate. The current minimum wage for starting out and trainee workers is $18.16 per hour.

You’re a starting-out worker if:

  • you’re 16 or 17, and you haven’t completed six months’ employment with your current employer, or
  • you’re 18 or 19 and you’ve been paid a benefit for six months or more, and you haven’t completed six months’ employment with any single employer since you started getting the benefit, or
  • you’re 16, 17, 18 or 19, and you’re doing at least 40 credits a year of industry training as part of your employment agreement.

You’re a trainee worker if:

  • you’re 20 or older, and
  • you’re doing at least 60 credits a year of industry training as part of your employment agreement.

However, if you’re supervising or training other workers, you’re entitled to be paid the adult minimum wage – even if you’d otherwise be classed as a starting-out or trainee worker.

Minimum wage exemption permits

Minimum Wage Act 1983, s 8

If you have a disability that significantly and demonstrably affects your ability to do your job, a labour inspector can issue an exemption permit. This permit lets your employer pay you less than the minimum wage. The inspector will decide what rate you get based on your ability to do the job. For more information, see: “Your pay and the minimum wage laws”.

For information on how to contact labour inspectors, see: “Where to go for more support”  at the bottom of this page.

Wages for care and support workers

There are different minimum wages for care and support workers due to protections in the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2007. This Act is designed to address historical pay issues for care and support workers (including home care, disability sector and aged residential care workers).

This legislation was introduced after the E Tū union brought a pay equity claim to the Employment Court on behalf of one of its members. The basis of the claim was that care and support work was systemically underpaid because the work was mainly performed by women. The case was resolved through a settlement agreement, and part of that agreement was to put this Act in place.

Who is a care and support worker?

Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017, s 5

Care and support workers are employed to carry out care and support services in a person’s home care facility or workplace. These services are funded by Health New Zealand, the Māori Health Authority, or ACC. Care and support services include personal care and household management services, rehabilitation from an injury, and helping a person with a disability to work in the community.

This includes work in rest homes and residential care facilities. It doesn’t include mental health and addiction support services, vocational and disability support services, or services provided by a health practitioner.

What is the minimum wage for care and support workers?

Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017, s 12 Case: Terranova Homes and Care Ltd v Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Inc [2014] NZSC 196

If you are a care and support worker, you’re covered by specific minimum wage rates. You should get more than the standard minimum wage.

If you started working for your current employer before 1 July 2017, your minimum rate will depend on your length of experience. If you started working for your current employer on or after 1 July 2017, your minimum rate will depend on your qualifications.

Your employer also has to support you to gain formal qualifications, which will help you meet the higher payment thresholds. The Act says your employer “must take all reasonable and practicable steps” to help you upskill – this includes things like providing training and giving you leave to attend this training. The Act also sets out the timeframes in which your employer should be providing this support.

You can find out about these special rates and your employer’s obligations online, here (or go to:, search “pay equity settlement employees” and navigate to “Pay equity settlement – information for employees”).

Home and Community Support (Payment for Travel Between Clients) Settlement Act 2016, ss 17, 18

Home and community-based care and support workers can get paid for the time spent travelling between clients (called “in-between travel payments”). This is only available where the services are funded by the Ministry of Health, Health New Zealand, the Māori Health Authority or ACC.

Your rate of pay for in-between travel is different from your standard wage. This is calculated based on the time and distance you travel between clients, but you don’t have to record or calculate these yourself. You only need to keep a travel log for trips of more than 15kms, and only if your employer doesn’t have a system to record these trips for you.

Find more information about how in-between travel rates are calculated online, here (or go to: and search “travel times and payment”).

Case: Idea Services Ltd v Dickson [2011] NZCA 14 Minimum Wage Act 1983, s 6

If you have to sleep over at your workplace and have continuous responsibilities in this time (for example, if you have to be available to help clients if they wake up), this is usually considered a “sleepover”. You are entitled to at least minimum wage for every hour of a sleepover shift.

If you are on call overnight but don’t have to stay at your workplace, it is usually not considered a sleepover.

Next Section | Overtime pay

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Employment conditions and protections

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:

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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
Hours and wages:
Leave and holidays:
Workplace policies:

Te Kauae Kaimah/New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Te Kauae Kaimah 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

Labour inspectorate

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

Website: and
Phone: 0800 20 90 20

Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa/Worksafe New Zealand

Worksafe is New Zealand’s primary workplace health and safety regulator.  The website contains a range of information on workplace health and safety.

Phone: 0800 030 040
Notify Worksafe online:

Parental leave payments

For more information on parental leave see Inland Revenue’s website.


Office of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman handles complaints about Government agencies. In the employment context, you can make a protected disclosure (known as whistle-blowing).

Phone: 0800 802 602
Whistle-blowing/protected disclosure information:

To make a complaint online:

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