Standard principles for crew employment agreements

Standard principles apply to employment agreements provided by overseas employers who employ crew to work on fishing vessels in New Zealand waters.

Employment agreements must include:

  • the employer’s name and address
  • the crew member’s name and date of birth
  • the crew member’s home address, phone number and email address
  • if the crew member has an agent, the agent’s contact details
  • if the employment agreement is fixed term, the length of the employment and reason it’s fixed term
  • the position being offered to the crew member, including a description of any duties they’ll be expected to carry out
  • the name of the vessel the crew member will be working on
  • the expected minimum number of hours of work, which must be at least 42 hours per week on average over the length of the employment in New Zealand waters
  • a clause agreeing that the employer will record all the hours the crew member works
  • details of the hourly rate the crew member will be paid, which must be at least the New Zealand minimum hourly wage plus NZ$2
  • any amounts that will be deducted, the reason for the deductions, the crew member’s agreement that these amounts can be deducted, and the employer’s agreement they will record any deductions for audit purposes
  • the currency that will be used to pay the crew member
  • when and how the crew member will be paid – either to a New Zealand bank account in the crew member’s name, or in cash
  • any reasons the employer can dismiss the crew member
  • an explanation of the crew member’s employment and immigration rights in the crew member’s own language – this can be provided by attaching a copy of ‘Important information for foreign crews working in New Zealand fisheries waters’
  • a process for resolving problems and disputes that follows the ‘Steps for resolving problems and disputes’
  • an agreement that the crew member had the opportunity to get independent advice about the employment agreement before signing it
  • the signature of the employer and crew member and the date the agreement was signed.

Minimum wages

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

The minimum wage

Employment and immigration rights explained

You can provide an explanation of crew member employment and immigration rights by attaching a copy of the ‘Important information for Foreign Fishing Crews working in New Zealand Waters’ guide in their own language.

Important information for Foreign Fishing Crews working in New Zealand

If a principle doesn’t apply

If an employer believes a standard principle shouldn’t apply to their employment agreements, they must provide the reason for this with their Request for Approval in Principle (AIP) to Recruit Foreign Crew of Fishing Vessels

Steps for resolving problems and disputes

If either party has a problem, they should follow the 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 working in their employment with all the conditions of the employment agreement being met.

2. Talk to the employer

If the problem can’t 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 working in their employment with all the conditions of the employment agreement being met.

3. Talk to a third-party

If the problem can’t be resolved between the employer and the crew member, then:

  • the crew member can ask a Labour Inspector for help
  • the crew member can contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Mediation Service, which provides mediation services to people in employee and employer and other work-related relationships.

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

If the problem can’t 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 employer or the crew member doesn’t agree with the decision, they can file a challenge to the Employment Court as long as they do so within 28 days.

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

5. Go to arbitration

If the problem can’t 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.

6. Appeal to the District Court

Crew members and employers can only appeal to the District Court if there’s been an error with the process. They can’t 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:

  • a union
  • the New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild
  • a Community Law Centre
  • a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Good faith

All parties must act in good faith including:

  • the employer
  • the crew member
  • the crew member’s representative, if they choose to use one.

Good faith

Employment Relations Act

The employer and crew member must comply with the act.

Employment Relations Act 2000

Information about services that can help

For more information about Labour Inspectors visit:
Labour inspectors

For more information about Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Mediation Service, visit:
Mediation

For more information about the Employment Relations Authority, visit:
Employment Relations Authority

For more information about the Employment Court, visit:
Employment Court

For more information about the New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild, visit:
NZFIG