NEW ZEALAND: The government’s proposals for fair pay agreements move forward

After a period of quiet, the Government has revealed plans to move ahead with a Fair Pay Agreements system.

On 17 October 2019, Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, announced the launch of two consultations, which respectively seek feedback on the following issues:

  1. How to design Fair Pay Agreements system to protect workers in vulnerable sectors; and
  2. How to tackle temporary migrant worker exploitation.

The Government states this work is to support safe and collaborative workplaces where minimum employment rights are upheld and people are fairly rewarded for their work. It has said the released consultations will explore ways to ensure workers, particularly New Zealand’s most vulnerable workers, are treated fairly and are protected from exploitation, including protection to support good employers to ensure they are not being undercut by exploitative ones.

Fair Pay Agreements

The Fair Pay Agreements consultation seeks feedback on policy design features developed after the work of the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway said many working New Zealanders are not receiving their fair share, and consequently, vulnerable workers have had less access to collective bargaining, with wages also not keeping up with productivity increases. The Government says Fair Pay Agreements are part of its plan to address this.

The Government has confirmed Fair Pay Agreements would be designed for occupations and sectors that need extra help to lift wages and conditions.

Temporary migrant worker exploitation

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway says reducing temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand will require broad changes to how the 235,000 temporary migrant workers are protected, including international students, and how to ensure businesses are meeting employment and immigration obligations.

To tackle temporary migrant worker exploitation, the Government is seeking ideas on:

  • introducing liability for parties with significant control over an exploitative employer;
  • reducing the barriers to reporting exploitation by establishing dedicated phone and online reporting and migrant worker exploitation reporting and triaging team;
  • supporting workers to leave exploitative workplaces;
  • improving the tools available to the Labour Inspectorate and Immigration NZ to strengthen our enforcement;
  • expanding the stand-down list to include immigration offences.

Both consultations close on 27 November 2019.

For more information and to make a submission on the Fair Pay Agreement consultation please visit

For more information and to make a submission on the Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation consultation please visit

Alternatively, please contact us if you would like to know more about the current proposals, or if you require our assistance to make a submission.