Agency and Temporary Staff

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Agency and Temporary Staff

Temporary staff (also known as fixed-term employees) are hired on a full or part-time basis. Temporary staff are often hired to work until a specific date or event occurs.

Under New Zealand employment laws, fixed-term employees are entitled to the same rights as permanent employees. This means they are entitled to at least a minimum working wage, holiday and leave entitlements, and training for the temporary job they are being hired for.

Employers must also maintain records of their written employment agreement and wages, time at work, holiday and leave records.

What are Employment Agencies?

Many small businesses choose to recruit their own staff, but employment agencies can recruit for specific roles on behalf of an employer. Agencies that specialise in temporary employment often have a number of contractors and temporary workers available for hire at short notice.

Hiring staff is a time consuming process for employers as each individual usually requires at least one interview, a skill test and reference checks. Employment agencies can be useful for employers who need temporary staff and do not have the time or resources to do their own recruitment.

Reasons for Temporary Work

Different companies in different industries have specific reasons for wanting to hire temporary staff.

The three most common reasons to hire temporary staff is:

  • To complete a certain project within a specific time
  • During peak seasons and holiday events
  • To replace another employee on holiday or leave

Some industries have peak periods where demand for work is particularly high. For example, retail stores get very busy in the months leading up to Christmas, and fruit picking farms can only provide substantial work during certain seasons.

If a company is working on a project, they may need temporary staff with skills or qualifications that other team members don’t have. Therefore, the employee will be hired for only the time they are needed to complete the project.

Regardless of the position being offered, employers can only offer temporary jobs for genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds. And the employee must be told why they are being hired on a temporary basis.

Fixed-Term Employment Agreements

A written employment agreement sets out the terms and conditions of the work relationship.

Fixed-term employment agreements should outline the following:

  • When or how the employment agreement will end
  • The key reason for hiring the employee on a fixed term

If a fixed-term agreement does not specify why the employee is doing a temporary job, the law may consider the employee to be a permanent employee.


Temporary employees are covered by the same work health and safety laws as permanent staff.

Therefore, employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment, equipment and machinery for temporary staff. If an employee needs to learn how to perform a certain task, they should be given supervised training and access to learning materials.


Sometimes, an employer may need to dismiss an employee before the end of their specified date of completion. This can happen if the employee has been involved in serious misconduct, breaching their employee agreement, or their behaviour is a health and safety risk to the company.

To dismiss a fixed-term employee, you must follow the same regulations and procedures as a permanent employee. This means the dismissal has to be done for a good reason, and the process itself must be fair and reasonable.

Depending on the circumstances of the dismissal, you may need to provide a notice period for the employee.

For advice on hiring and managing temporary staff, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

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