On the 1st of April New Zealand's minimum wage will increase from $18.90 to $20.00 an hour. The starting-out and training minimum wage will also see an increase from $15.12 to $16.00. With this in mind this week we will look at pay and the minimum wage.
So what is a minimum wage. It is exactly what it sounds like. Regardless of how you are paid, salary, wages, commission or piece rate you are entitled to be paid a minimum amount of remuneration for each hour worked on average. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are paid correctly. All employees over the age of 16 years are entitled to a basic minimum wage, unless they fall into a category where there is a minimum wage exemption (more on this later). An employer cannot pay an employee less than the minimum wage even if the employee agrees to it.
Paying an employee correctly means that an employer must not discriminate based on an employees race, ethnic origins, sex, religious or ethical beliefs, sexual orientation or if they are part of a union. Employers must also ensure that women and men receive the same pay rates for doing the same or substantially similar work.
So who gets the minimum wage? All full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed term, on casual employment agreements, people working from home, people paid wholly or partly by commission or by a piece rate. The only exceptions are workers under the age of 16 and a small number of people who are limited by a disability to carry out the full range of duties for the role they are in. In these cases an exemption, issued by a Labour Inspectorate, is given to the employer.
If an employee works overtime then they are also entitled to be paid the minimum wage for each of those hours worked over their usual hours. For employees who earn a piece rate, that is someone working in an orchard and getting paid by the number of bins they pick, the amount they earn per hour on average must not be less than the minimum wage.
Payment of wages should always be on the same day and interval agreed to between the employer and the employee. Neither may change without the employee first being consulted. The payment of these wages should also be in cash (New Zealand coins or banknotes) unless:
the employee is employed by the Crown in which case they can be paid by cheque.
The employee has requested in writing to be paid by postal or money order
The employee is away from the proper or usual place for the palace of the wages then they can also be paid buy postal or money order or by cheque
Payments for an employees annual holidays must be paid at the rate of the greater of the employees ordinary weekly pay or the average weekly pay over the 12 month period at the time that the leave is taken. This applies to employees who have had a change in their pay or work pattern over a 12 month period.