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The Minimum Wage is Changing on 1 April 2021

Published March 08, 2021 (last updated June 2, 2022) - ANZ Head of Legal Services

Like last year, the minimum wage will increase on 1 April 2021, compounding the challenges experienced by small businesses during COVID.

As announced on 17 December by the Government, the minimum wage will increase by just over 5%, which means the minimum hourly rate will go from $18.90 to $20.00.

Concurrently, the starting-out wage and training minimum wages will increase from $15.12 per hour to $16.00 per hour.

Does the Minimum Wage Apply to My Business?

Yes, the minimum wage increase will apply to all employers within New Zealand.

Are There Any Exemptions to Paying the Minimum Wage?

There is no minimum wage rate for workers under 16 years of age. However, employers must remember to switch employees to the minimum wage rate once they turn 16. Should an employer fail to adjust the rate, they may risk non-compliance with the Minimum Wage Act 1983, and also be liable for the recovery of underpaid wages.

Other exemptions outlined in the Act include:

  • Apprentices under the Maori Housing Amendment Act 1938, Defence Act 1990, and other relevant legislation
  • Inmates of any charitable institution
  • Prisoners working in custody under the Corrections Act 2004
  • Employees who travel between clients, which are instead covered by the Home and Community Support Settlement Act 2016

BrightHR Can Help You Too

Contact us to find out how BrightHR people management software and help you manage and store your essential employee records and documents.

Exemptions for Employees with a Disability

In some cases, an employee may have a disability that limits them carrying out the requirements of their job. Under a mutual agreement with the employee, employer and a Labour Inspector, the employee can be issued a minimum wage exemption permit, which allows the employer to pay a proposed minimum wage lower than the national standard for a specific job and time period.

To issue a minimum wage exemption permit under the Minimum Wage Act 1983, the employer and employee have to discuss the requirements of the job and negotiate a new minimum wage. During these negotiations, the employee can be accompanied by a union representative, advocate or independent representative for guidance and support.

A Labour Inspector will not issue a minimum wage exemption permit if they, a representative, or the employee do not agree to the proposed pay rate. A minimum wage exemption permit will not be granted if the Labour Inspector feels the employee deserves the base minimum wage rate or the negotiated rate is not fair.

If I Pay My Employees a Salary, Do I Have to Comply With the Minimum Wage?

The difference between a wage and a salary only refers to the structure of payment.

A wage is a pay rate per hour that is then multiplied by the number of hours worked. On the other hand, a salary is a fixed, regular payment agreed upon in an employment agreement, generally for a certain amount of hours worked per week expressed over the course of year (e.g. $60,000 per annum).

Salaried employees must receive at least equal or higher than the current minimum wage rate for every hour worked.

Where Can I Learn More About My Wage Obligations?

Employsure can assist you to better understand and implement the minimum wage in your business, including providing tips on how you can reduce staffing costs. Get in touch with us now for free, initial advice, or download our guide to find out more information about wages in New Zealand.

Also make sure to check out BrightHR, which has easy-to-use tools designed to make wage obligations a breeze.

Get our Free Guide on Wages in New Zealand

Download our guide now to get more information on wages in New Zealand.

About Employsure.

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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