What to include in crew employment agreements

If you are employing crew to work on fishing vessels in New Zealand waters, you must include standard principles in their employment agreements.

The principles apply even if you are an overseas employer. 

Standard principles you must include

Contact details you need to include are:

Employment details you need to include are:

Financial details you need to include are:

Work rights:

Explaining crew rights and obligations - Information for Foreign Fishing Crews working in New Zealand Fisheries waters

Minimum wage | Employment New Zealand

If a principle does not apply

If you think a standard principle should not apply to your employment agreements, you must provide the reason for this with your Request for Approval in Principle (AIP) to Recruit Foreign Crew of Fishing Vessels.

Steps for resolving problem and disputes

If either party has a problem, there is a process for resolving problems and disputes.

1. Talk to the captain

If a crew member has a problem, they should talk to the captain first.

If at all possible the crew member should continue to work, and all the conditions of their employment agreement must be met.

2. Talk to the employer

If the problem cannot be resolved between the crew member and the captain, the crew member should talk to their employer.

If at all possible the crew member should continue to work, and all the conditions of their employment agreement must be met.

3. Talk to a third party

If the problem cannot be resolved between the employer and the crew member, then:

Labour Inspectorate | Employment New Zealand

Mediation | Employment New Zealand

4. Take the problem to the Employment Relations Authority or Employment Court

If the problem cannot be resolved by a Labour Inspector, or at mediation, then the crew member or the employer can refer the problem to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The ERA will formally investigate the problem and make a decision that will bind both the employer and the crew member.

If the you or the crew member do not agree with the decision, you can file a challenge to the Employment Court. They must do so within 28 days.

If the crew member’s problem is about minimum or contractual entitlements, they do not have to go to the ERA first – they can take their problem straight to the Employment Court.

Employment Relations Authority | Employment New Zealand

Employment Court | Ministry of Justice

5. Go to arbitration

If the problem cannot be resolved with the help of MBIE’s mediation service, the employer or the crew member can take the problem to arbitration. The employer and the crew member can choose an arbitrator from a panel of arbitrators set up by the New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and MBIE.

The arbitrator will make a decision that will bind both the employer and the crew member. Neither party can appeal the decision the arbitrator makes, unless the arbitration didn’t follow the correct process.

Contact the Guild | New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild

6. Appeal to the District Court

Crew members and employers can only appeal to the District Court if there was an error with the process. They cannot appeal if they simply disagree with the decision.

Crew and employer rights and obligations

Representation

Crew members can ask a representative for their help to resolve a dispute, including from:

Good faith

All parties must act in good faith including:

Good faith | Employment New Zealand

Employment Relations Act

Employers and crew members must comply with the Employment Relations Act.

Employment Relations Act 2000 | New Zealand Legislation

Explaining crew rights and obligations