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:

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:

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:

Good faith

All parties must act in good faith including:

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