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Labour / February 2, 2022

Sample Employment Agreements

The following sample employment agreements are provided for member’s information and without any guarantee as to its suitability for a particular employment relationship. Members should get legal advice on their particular requirements, to ensure that you comply with all applicable legal requirements.

Click here for the Fixed term employment agreement sample (with variable hours)

Click here for the Casual employment agreement sample

Click here for the Permanent employment agreement sample


Fixed term employment agreement
  • A fixed term individual employment agreement is an agreement that will come to an end on an agreed date, the occurrence of a specified event, (such as the end of the kiwifruit season) or at the conclusion of a specified project.  There is usually no need for either party to terminate the agreement. Most employees doing seasonal work should be employed on fixed term agreements.
  • Fixed term agreements are closely regulated.  The employer must have a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds for offering fixed term employment.  This does not include using a fixed term agreement to assess an employee’s suitability for permanent employment.
  • To rely on the fixed term to end employment, the employer must also meet specific procedural requirements.  The employee must be told in advance of the fixed term nature of employment, specifically when and how their employment will end and the reason for the fixed term.  This should be outlined at the job interview and recorded in your letter offering employment.  The employment agreement must also state in writing the way in which employment will end and the reasons for ending the employment that way.  Because of these procedural requirements, it is particularly important that fixed term employees sign a written employment agreement before they start work.
  • If you let fixed term employment run past the end date, or let the employee continue once the relevant project has ended or event occurred, it is likely the employment will become permanent.  Fixed term agreements can be extended, in some cases, but this should be agreed as a written variation to the employment agreement signed before the current fixed term expires.  You should comply with your obligations to inform the employee of their right to get independent advice on the variation.  If you offer repeated extensions or a series of fixed term agreements, a Court may conclude that there is an ongoing need for that role and employment is not genuinely fixed term. If there is any risk a fixed term employee has become or is permanent, you should seek legal advice before relying on the fixed term to end their employment.

Casual employment agreement
  • A casual individual employment agreement is suitable for employees who only work on an “as required” basis.  A key feature of casual employment is that there is no obligation on the employee to accept work, and no obligation on the employer to offer work.  The employer can offer work from time to time and the employee can accept or reject it each time.
  • Each offer of work represents a new period of employment: The employee is only an employee during agreed periods of work or if they have agreed to work on a future date.  An example of a casual employee is a person who covers from time to time when permanent employees are sick.
  • Casual employment is expected to be intermittent and irregular, with no guarantee of hours or days of work. If there is any obligation on the employee to be available at agreed times, such as under an ongoing roster or on regular days, this is inconsistent with casual employment.  Similarly, if the employee works regularly each week on set days and/or works long hours over an extended period, employment is unlikely to be casual.  Some employers think that if an employee works each week, but with varying hours and days, this means they are casual.  This is not the case: Employees with regular but variable hours are usually permanent part time.   If you have any concerns that a casual agreement is not appropriate for your arrangements, you should seek further legal advice.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The following FAQ section is not a substitute for professional legal advice and we accept no responsibility for the use or reliance on any information provided on this website or in the template employment agreements.

Is there a difference in the way that you dismiss people between a Casual and Fixed Term Agreement?

Yes, there is a difference.

A casual employee is only employed on an “as required” basis for discrete periods of employment. Once each period of employment ends, the employer is not obliged to offer the employee a new period of employment. Therefore, if the employer does not wish to continue employing the employee, the employer can wait until the end of the period of employment and then stop offering work to the employee. In this case, there is no need to dismiss the employee.  

However, if an urgent situation arises during a period of employment, for example involving a serious health and safety risk, and the employer feels it cannot wait until the end of the period of employment, it can initiate a dismissal process. In this case the employer is obliged to follow a full and formal dismissal process as it would for any other employee. Alternatively, you can simply wait for the end of the current period of work, and then not provide any further work to them.

By contrast, a fixed term employee is employed for a fixed period with a defined expiry date or event when their employment will end (such as the end of the season). You must have grounds for dismissing a fixed term employee prior to the end of the term, and you must follow a formal process for such dismissal.

Do you have to guarantee any hours on a Fixed Term Agreement?

Zero-hour contracts are unlawful whether they are fixed term, casual or otherwise. However, an employer and the employee do not have to agree on specific hours, times, or days of work – just an indication of when the employee may be required to work (e.g. an indication of days, start and finish times and any flexibility in those). Any terms agreed must be recorded in the employment agreement. If no hours are agreed in the employment agreement, the employee is under no obligation to be available for any hours you may want them to work, unless you provide them with reasonable compensation for that availability and put this in their employment agreement.

How long can you keep someone on a Fixed Term Agreement?

There’s no real limit to how long you can make a fixed term agreement, however because you can only use a fixed term agreement where you have a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds for the employment ending at a certain date or on a specific event happening, you would rarely use them for longer than 6-12 months. You should never “roll over” someone on a fixed term contract unless you want to offer them a permanent position, or unless you have another genuine reason for extending the term of the agreement.

Must have a genuine operational reason for a Fixed Term Agreement

When you’re hiring a fixed-term employee, the written employment agreement must:

  • explain why the role is only for a fixed term — there must be a genuine reason for employing someone on a fixed-term agreement, eg because the work is seasonal
  • specify when the term will end — e.g., after six months, or when the season finishes – and give a detailed reason why it will end then (ie because the employer will have no further work for the employee).

Can you have variable hours on either agreement?

Yes, you can have variable hours on both agreements. It all depends on what your requirements are in terms of what level of availability you want the employee to be locked into (which means you need to guarantee that number of hours as a minimum) and what you can live with in terms of them being free to accept or reject work above that level, unless you pay them reasonable compensation to remain available for work.

Can you pay piece rates on a Fixed Term Agreement?

Yes, but you have to ensure that the rates are at least equal to the current minimum wage applicable at all times. This is your responsibility as an employer and if you fail, you face the possibility of penalties, prosecution and back pay.

Can you pay hourly rates on a Fixed Term Agreement?

Yes, but you have to ensure that the rates are at least equal to the current minimum wage applicable at all times. This is your responsibility as an employer and if you fail, you face the possibility of penalties, prosecution and back pay.

Can you pay holiday pay paid as you go on a Fixed Term Agreement?

Yes, but only if the term is for less than 12 months.

Are there any impacts of consecutive fixed term contracts?

Potentially, if it appears to a Court that the employment has become permanent rather than fixed term.

What is the acceptable length of terms for either agreement?

Casual agreements don’t usually have an end date as each period of employment ends when the work finishes (ie one day, two days one week etc). Fixed term agreements are rarely longer than 12 months unless there is a longer term project or contract in place being the reason for the term ending.

Are there any impacts on Sick leave entitlements on either agreement?

Yes depending on the length and frequency and hours of work. A fixed term agreement of longer than 6 months may give rise to sick leave entitlements, as could a casual agreement where the worker works,  over a 6 month period, at least an average of 10 hours a week and no less than one hour per week or 40 hours per month.

Can you add an extension or amendment to Fixed Term Agreements – If so what is the simplest / most effective method?

You should always finish the agreement at the agreed time. If you need to extend it, do so in writing — before the original agreement expires. The template sets out the process for extensions.