Crew employment conditions

Employers recruiting foreign crew to work on a fishing vessel must provide employment that meets certain conditions.

Working and living conditions on the vessel

Employers must make sure that working and living conditions for crew on board vessels meet:

  • New Zealand safety standards, including those set out in the 'Health and Safety at Work Act 2015'
  • any safety, marine protection, crew living and hygiene standards set by the Director of Maritime New Zealand.
  • Minimum standards include (but are not limited to) making sure:
    • all crew have access to enough fresh cold and hot water
    • all crew have adequate food (quantity and type)
    • crew accommodation is clean and dry
    • all crew have their own bed and suitable bedding
    • there are enough washing facilities and toilets for the number of crew on board
    • the vessel carries adequate medical stores
    • at least one crew member is a qualified ‘ship’s medic’
    • crew are provided with suitable protective clothing and equipment for them to carry out their duties
    • vessel safety and emergency drills are carried out regularly.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Crew welfare

The New Zealand employer must make sure crew have access to the following services:

  • the manning agent, if this applies
  • medical and dental treatment
  • help with banking services, if requested
  • translation services, if requested
  • mail services
  • NZ government agencies, like MBIE, Police, Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries, if requested.

Employment agreements

Employers must make sure crew employment agreements comply with New Zealand employment law.

Standard principle for crew employment agreements

Minimum payments

Employers must pay foreign crew:

  • at least the New Zealand minimum statutory hourly wage plus NZ$2 per hour
  • for all the hours crew work
  • for at least 42 hours per week on average over the course of their employment.

For more information about the current New Zealand minimum statutory hourly wage, visit:

The minimum wage

Deductions

Employers may only deduct amounts from crew wages for:

  • food (calculated at a maximum of 10% of hours worked multiplied by 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.

Employers can’t make deductions that bring the hourly rate below the New Zealand minimum statutory wage for all hours worked.

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

Employers 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 $2 per hour, employers must pay them for any hours they worked above the 42 hours a week at least 24 hours before leaving New Zealand.

Paying wages

Employers must provide each crew member with a New Zealand bank account and pay wages into that account, unless the crew member decides 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 their employer in writing in their own language.

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

  • pay them in New Zealand
  • if they pay in foreign currency, record the exchange rate, and provide it to crew at the time they’re paid
  • provide a final payslip at least 24 hours before leaving New Zealand so crew have the opportunity to contact and meet with an authorised representative before they go.