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Legal minimum wage

What is the legal minimum wage?

There are three minimum wage rates:
Employees aged 16 years and over must be paid at least the adult minimum wage rate, unless they are starting-out workers or trainees. All employees who are involved in training or supervising other employees must be paid at least the adult minimum wage rate. Starting-out workers must be paid at least the minimum starting-out wage rate, and trainees over 20 years of age must be paid at least the minimum training wage rate. Employers and employees may agree to any wage rate as long as it is not less than the applicable minimum wage rate
  • Starting out workers are:
    16- and 17-year-old employees who have not yet completed six months of continuous employment with their current employer.

    18- and 19-year-old
    employees who have been paid a specified social security benefit for six months or more, and who have not yet completed six months continuous employment with any employment since they started being paid a benefit. Once they have completed six months continuous employment with a single employer, they will no longer be a starting-out worker, and must be paid at least the adult minimum wage rate.

    16- to 19-year-old employees who are required by their employment agreement to undertake industry training for at least 40 credits a year in order to become qualified for the occupation to which their employment agreement relates.
  • Trainees are employees who are aged 20 years or over who are required by their employment agreement to undertake at least 60 credits a year in an industry training programme in order to become qualified for the occupation to which their employment agreement relates.

Minimum wage rates must be paid to all employees whether full-time, part-time fixed-term, casual employees, working from home and people paid totally or partly by commission or piece rates.

There is no minimum wage for employees aged under 16 but all other employment rights and entitlements still apply. When looking at whether an employee who is 16 years or older is a starting-out worker, any time spent employed by an employer before the employee turned 16 must be included when calculating the time that employee has been continuously employed.

A small number of people hold an exemption from the minimum wage (see the section about minimum wage exemptions). 

The minimum wage rates are reviewed every year. Information on the current minimum wage is provided on the Ministry’s  website www.dol.govt.nz/er/pay.

Employees have to be paid at least the minimum hourly wage rate for any extra time worked over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Anyone who thinks they are being paid less than the minimum wage should call the Ministry free on 0800 20 90 20.

For employees on piece rates – for example, workers who get so many cents a kilogram for fruit picked, or so many dollars per garment produced – the total amount earned per hour, day or week still cannot be less than the minimum wage.

Employees should get at least the minimum wage if they are 16 years of age and over, whether they are a full-time, part-time or casual employee, a home worker, or paid wholly or partly by commission. The minimum wage does not apply to people who have an exemption.

Employers and employees may agree to terms that are more than the legislative minimum, but may not agree to terms that are less.

The Minimum Wage Act 1983 provides that Labour Inspectors from the Ministry may issue minimum wage exemption permits to workers who are limited by a disability in carrying out the requirements of their work. This means a lower minimum wage rate is set for a particular person in a particular job for the period in the permit. Call the Ministry free on 0800 20 90 20 for more information.

Minimum wage rates from 1st April 2014

The current adult minimum wage rates (before tax) that apply for employees aged 16 are:

For those paid by the hour or by piecework, $14.25 per hour,
For those paid by the day, $114.00 for an 8-hour day (and $14.25 per hour per each additional hour worked over 8 hours in a day),
For those paid by the week, $570.00 for a 40-hour week (and $14.25 per hour per each additional hour worked over 40 hours in a week).

The Starting-out wage  rates and the training minimum wage rates (before tax) are:
For those paid by the hour or by piecework, $11.40 an hour,
For those paid by the day, $91.20 for an 8-hour day (and $11.40 per hour per each additional hour worked over 8 hours in a day),
For those paid by the week, $456.00 for a 40-hour week (and $11.40 per hour per each additional hour worked over 40 hours in a week).

Employees have to be paid at least the minimum hourly wage rate for any extra time worked over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
Anyone who thinks they are being paid less than the minimum wage should call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on 0800 20 90 20.

For rates prior to 1 April 2014 refer to our Previous Minimum Wage Rates information.

See also:
More information on the minimum wage

Going to mediation

Starting-out wage

Date Modified: Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Disclaimer: The content on this website covers common problems. It will not answer every question and should not be used as a substitute for legislation or legal advice.State sector employers and employees may be affected by some differences in the laws that apply to them (e.g. State Sector Act 1988).The Department of Labour takes no responsibility for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information on this website, nor for any errors or omissions.