Are you an International Student working in New Zealand ?
Whether you are planning to come to study to New Zealand or already an existing student in NZ, there are always concerns regarding work rights as an international student. Most students in New Zealand feel confused when it comes to working hours, the work they can do, NZ employment rights, NZ employer expectations and much more.
Let’s break it down for you
Work Rights for Students
New Zealand offers work rights to most international students but there are rules that you must know. You may be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week and full-time during scheduled holidays if you fulfill certain conditions. You may check these conditions on Immigration New Zealand (INZ) page here.
Your New Zealand e-visa or visa label on your passport states your work rights or they are explained in a letter. If you breach your visa conditions such as by working when you aren’t allowed to or working for higher number of hours, you may be deported.
Things to remember:
- While you are on international student visa in new Zealand you are not allowed to be self-employed. Student visa means that you can only work for an employer and have an employment agreement.
- You may have heard that escort is a skill level 3 but you cannot choose to work as a prostitute, operate a New Zealand prostitution business or invest in a prostitution business.
- Tax Number is a must – After arriving to this country if you intend to work in New Zealand then you must apply for an IRD number. Your employer would ask you to provide this number when you start the work and you also need this number for all your tax matters.
Please click on the link here to apply for an IRD number.
Your Employment Rights
Like every country New Zealand has its own employment law. It has laid down certain rights and obligations for both employers and employees. Here are few important things you would like to know:
- Employment agreement – After your interview discussion you may accept the offer but make sure that you sign a written employment agreement before you start the work. Employer must give you a copy of proposed agreement to take away. Always read through terms and conditions of the agreement and if you are not clear on anything or want to negotiate any terms, please do so before you sign the agreement and start working. It’s a good practice to keep a copy of your signed agreement. Employers must provide it to you if you ask for one.
- Basic work rights – It offers basic work rights to everyone, irrespective of the fact that you work casual, part-time or full-time. Here are certain obligations that your employer must fulfill under the law:
- Give you a written employment agreement
- Pay you at least the minimum wage
- Give you paid annual holidays
- Give you paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks
- Give you public holidays off or compensate you for working on those days
- Not deduct money from your wages without your agreement in writing
- Provide a safe workplace
- Not discriminate against you
- Act in good faith
Employment NZ provides a list of minimum employment rights in various languages for you to read and understand so that you are better equipped to work in NZ.
- Support Person – When it comes to having difficult discussions with your employer and you aren’t comfortable on doing it alone, you have the right to take anyone along as a support person. This person could be your friend, family member, a professional like an employer or anyone you trust. Such a person can accompany you or they can speak on your behalf.
- Member of Union – You have the right to choose to be a member of a union or not. Your employer cannot influence you. If the employer is offering a collective agreement, then he/she must tell you so. It is basically an agreement that contains terms agreed by union for all its members who do similar work in that workplace. Usually the fee for union membership is deducted from your pay and passed on to the relevant union directly by the employer. You can read more about this here on Employment NZ website.
- Fair Dismissal – If your employer wants you to leave the job, he/she must do so in a fair way by following certain steps laid down in the Employment Law. Employer must have a valid reason for sacking you from the job. If your agreement states that there is trial period of 90 days, then the employer can fire you within those days without any warning or reason.
You can watch in this video more about your employment rights and dos and dont’s on student visa in New Zealand
While it is understood that the work culture in NZ might be different to your home country, there are certain things that every Kiwi employer expects from employees. Your side of the bargain requires you to perform your job with care and competence, among other things which are listed below:
- Turning up to work on time
- Following instructions
- Working carefully so your workmates or employer’s property isn’t harmed
- Doing your job as well as you can
- Following the dress code if there is one
- Being honest
- Always acting in good faith
Punctuality and honesty are highly regarded in NZ work culture. Both managers and employees expect to be consulted and information is shared frequently. At the same time, communication is informal, direct and participative. A Kiwi manager will appreciate it if you tell them if you’re not sure about something. Status, rank and hierarchies are much less important in Kiwi workplaces than elsewhere. Managers are respected by the staff, but they are one of the team.
One of your obligations as an employee is to stay within the conditions of your visa. If you have a work visa, it might be tied to your employer, industry, or to a city or region. If that’s the case and you want to switch jobs, you might need to apply for a variation of conditions first
Studying and working in any new country can be a daunting task but if you have the right guidance and tools at your disposal your journey only becomes better.
We, at Carmento, have been helping aspirants to choose the right kind of course for study as well as assist in admission and visa process. And we have seen them through the rest of their journey to build successful lives here in NZ. If you need assistance, get in touch with us
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