Labour inspectors

Who are labour inspectors and how can they help?

Labour inspectors work for the MBIE. They can be contacted through the MBIE contact centre on 0800 20 90 20.

Labour inspectors can investigate breaches of laws relating to minimum employment conditions and protections, such as:

  • equal pay
  • holiday pay
  • the minimum wage
  • parental leave
  • wage deductions, and
  • “in between travel” payments for home and community support workers.

What powers do labour inspectors have?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 223, 229

Labour inspectors have wide powers to enter workplaces at reasonable times, to interview employees and employers about compliance with employment standards and to inspect and copy any wage and time records. An employer must make these available straight away.

A labour inspector can also investigate to find out if any place is a workplace and if someone is an employee (as opposed to a contractor or volunteer). They have the same powers to enter and interview and inspect records as above.

A labour inspector can’t give you advice about employment disputes or pay rates (except about minimum wage rates).

What actions can a labour inspector take against an employer?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 223B, 224, 229, 235A

Actions a labour inspector can take include:

  • securing an “enforceable undertaking” from an employer – this is an agreement in writing that the employer will pay the money owed or otherwise fix the breach by a set date
  • issuing improvement notices (which states the failure and the steps your employer needs to take to fix it)
  • issuing infringement notices for breaches of record keeping, with fines (like a speeding ticket)
  • issuing a “demand notice” for minimum wage or holiday pay claims if the inspector is satisfied that the money is owed and that the employer is unwilling to pay
  • taking action for breaches of minimum standards – this can include taking action against company directors who were knowingly and intentionally involved in the breach
  • applying to the ERA for penalties for breaches of employment standards
  • applying to the Employment Court for a declaration of breach if there’s been a serious breach of minimum entitlements. If this declaration is granted, the inspector can apply for:
    • a penalty of up to $50,000 for individuals, or for companies either $100,000 or three times the financial gain made by the company as a result of the breach, whichever is more
    • a compensation order for lost wages
    • a banning order stopping a person from being an employer or hiring employees.

Did this answer your question?

Resolving employment problems

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
Information about resolving problems at work:
Early Resolution Service (free phone-based service to resolve issues before they become serious):
Free Mediation Services:

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

Employment Relations Authority (ERA)

If you’re unable to settle at mediation (see under “Mediation of Business, Innovation & Employment” above), the next step is to file your claim in the ERA.

For contact details in your local area:

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