Fishing crew employment conditions

If you are hiring foreign crew to work on a fishing vessel, you must provide employment that meets certain conditions.

Working and living conditions on the vessel

If you are hiring foreign crew, you must make sure working and living conditions on board vessels meet New Zealand safety standards, including those set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

You must also meet any safety, marine protection, crew living and hygiene standards set by the Director of Maritime New Zealand.

This includes making sure all crew have:

  • access to enough fresh cold and hot water
  • adequate food (quantity and type)
  • enough washing facilities and toilets
  • their own bed and suitable bedding
  • clean and dry accommodation.

Crew must also be provided with suitable protective clothing and equipment so they can carry out their duties.

The vessel must carry enough medical stores and at least one crew member must be a qualified ‘ship’s medic’. In addition, vessel safety and emergency drills must be carried out regularly.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 | New Zealand legislation

Crew welfare

You must make sure crew have access to:

  • the manning agent, if this applies
  • medical and dental treatment
  • help with banking services, if asked
  • translation services, if asked
  • mail services
  • New Zealand government agencies, like the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Police, Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries, if asked.

Employment agreements

You must make sure crew employment agreements follow New Zealand employment law.

Standard principle for crew employment agreements

Minimum payments

You must pay foreign crew:

  • at least the New Zealand minimum statutory hourly wage plus NZD $5.00 per hour
  • for all the hours they work
  • for at least 42 hours per week on average while they are employed.

The minimum wage | Employment New Zealand

In October 2024 this will change to the minimum wage plus NZD $6.00 an hour. In October 2025 this will change to the median wage at that date.

Wage deductions

You can only deduct amounts from crew wages for:

  • food (calculated at a maximum of 10% of hours worked  x the minimum wage)
  • airfares to and from New Zealand
  • Immigration New Zealand work visa application fees.

Deductions must be based on actual and reasonable confirmed costs.

You cannot make deductions that bring the hourly rate below the New Zealand minimum wage for all hours worked.

Wage advances

If crew want to pay the costs of personal items like cigarettes, phone cards and non-protective clothing from their wages, these are considered wage advances and not deductions.

Payment frequency

You must pay crew regularly, either monthly or at every port call. Payment frequency must be set out in crew employment agreements.

If crew have only been paid the minimum hourly wage pay plus NZD $4 per hour, you must pay them for any hours they worked above the 42 hours a week, and you must pay them at least 24 hours before leaving New Zealand.

Paying wages

You must provide each crew member with a New Zealand bank account and pay wages into that account, unless they want to be paid in cash. No employer, manning agent, crew representative, or any other person associated with them, may have access to, or Power of Attorney over, any crew member’s New Zealand bank account.

Crew can only be paid in cash if they notify you in writing in their own language.

If crew choose to be paid in cash, you must:

  • pay them while they are in New Zealand
  • provide a final payslip at least 24 hours before they leave New Zealand so they have the opportunity to contact and meet with an authorised representative before they go.

If you pay in foreign currency, you must record the exchange rate, and provide it to crew at the time they are paid.