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Tips for Employers


Training and hiring employees is expensive and time-consuming. Until the employee is properly trained and can independently fulfil their job duties, productivity as a whole goes down because a normally-productive employee must spend their time showing someone else how to do work the right way. And if the new employee doesn’t catch on or ends up being a poor fit for the company, then the process has to restart. A good employee that stays long term , on the other hand, can be irreplaceable. 

But how can you make sure that an employee is right before they start? 

While there is no guaranteed way to find that perfect team member, by following some helpful tips the chance of finding them can increase. 

Tip #1 – Create an Accurate Job Description

One of the best ways to find people that are the right match for a specific position is to make sure that position is explained accurately. Job duties should be relevant and specific, not vague and confusing. 

Sometimes this can be difficult, especially when there is a disconnect between how management defines a position compared to how workers perceive it. If possible, talk with an employee about the job and what duties they are expected to perform regularly and use their feedback to update the job description. 

Having a vague or inaccurate job description means that you’re more likely to get applicants who are unsuited for the job, or even ones who find out it isn’t what they were expecting after being hired. 

Tip #2 – Choose the right staff type for the position

There are several options for term lengths and type of staff to choose from as a New Zealand employer, and it’s important to choose the right type for the job. Different employee types have different laws, such as required entitlements and probationary periods. 


Permanent—A permanent employee is someone who is given ongoing work with no definitive end date in mind. Permanent employees are required to agree to detailed work agreements and have PAYE deducted from their wages. Any permanent employee is expected to have enough work to last long-term and can only be terminated under specific conditions. 

Fixed-Term—Fixed-term employees work for a specified amount of time, such as during a specific season when there will be surge in work and you know it will only last a certain amount of time. For an employee to be fixed-term, the agreement has to clearly specific start and end dates. If you wish to extend this date, you must create a new agreement.  

Casual—An employee can be hired on a casual basis if their specific skills are needed for extra work that comes up intermittently, but there isn’t enough work to keep them on in a permanent basis. The agreement for a casual employee must state that the work hours are uncertain and that they are employed on a casual basis. This also means that if you offer them hours, they do not necessarily have to accept them, particularly if they are doing work elsewhere. If they are needed regularly, consider hiring on a permanent basis instead. 

Not Employees

Contractor—Contractors work on individualised terms that you agree with and they generally have their own tools and equipment for work. Typically, contractors are hired for specific projects and have specialised skills to accomplish them. A contractor can work at the hours they prefer and don’t have to work on location unless they agree otherwise in their contractor agreement. 

Interns and Volunteers—Unpaid interns and volunteers need to know upfront that they won’t be paid. Keep record of any work done by volunteers and interns and make sure that they have proper health and safety training and equipment. When using interns, make sure to carefully follow NZ internship laws or your company could be at risk of fines and litigation.  

Tip #3 – Create a professional-grade employment agreement

The employment agreement is a legal-binding document and needs to explain job duties, scheduling, and entitlements in detail. The agreement can either be individualised and specific to one employee, or a collective agreement if they’ll be covered by a union. At a minimum, all employee agreements must include the following mandatory clauses: 

  • The company name and the employee name
  • The job title and description of work duties
  • Amount and frequency of pay
  • Location where they will work 
  • Agreed hours of work 
  • How much they will be paid for working on a public holiday (at least time and a half)
  • If an employee will be required to work on a public holiday and any alternative leave entitlements
  • What happens if the company is sold or restructured, i.e. an employee is made redundant
  • How problems in the employment relationship are handled such as personal grievances

However, it can also be helpful to include some other information as well to avoid confusion and reduce the possibility of tension or disputes later on. Some common optional clauses could include: 

  • Whether or not there is a trial period (Only for employers with fewer than 19 workers)
  • Use of work vehicles or designated parking spaces
  • Required attire or uniform
  • Non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements
  • Information on drug testing. 

With the change of the Employment Relations Act, many new rules went into effect in May 2019, which we have written more about in this article. This means that many agreements put into place before that date need to be revised and updated to meet current laws. Any clauses that are no longer legal will be unenforceable, regardless if both parties agree and sign the agreement. 

If you need help with creating an employment agreement, the government has an Employment Agreement Builder that will ask you to input details and generate an agreement with legal wording. However, if you have unusual circumstances or want to be sure that your agreement is valid, we recommend having reviewed by an employment law specialist. 

By creating a comprehensive, encompassing employment agreement, your potential workers can see upfront if the company and position are a good fit for them, which can save you a significant amount of time, money, and resources in the long run. 


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