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Thread: Contract negotiations - annual leave / sick leave / bonus etc...

  1. #1
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    Default Contract negotiations - annual leave / sick leave / bonus etc...

    Hi there. I've recently arrived from overseas and am currently reviewing my employment contract for a Senior Management position. What are people's views on Annual Leave, Sick Leave and Bonus provisions in NZ? Although the contract meets the minimum standards by law, they seem a little light, compared to other roles I've had in Europe where the companies I've worked for offered more than the minimum. Have people had any luck negotiating these things?

  2. #2
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    If you are used to European contracts and conditions, the provisions here will feel very light indeed. You can try to negotiate, but I'll doubt you'll get anywhere near what you are used to, especially where sick leave is concerned. The most luck I had was unpaid leave: I managed to get more entitlement written in my contract.

    Different employers will handle this differently, but on the whole, expect less.

  3. #3
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    Among other things, your ability to negotiate will depend on the level of the position, how badly they want to hire you and how much exposure the decision-makers have had to the outside world. While it would be fairly common to negotiate more than the minimum four weeks of annual leave (for a higher level position), I doubt that you'd make any progress on sick leave. In fact, such a request could very likely cause your commitment to be questioned.

    It is very common for NZ companies to offer only minimal benefits.

  4. #4
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    Negotiating for paid time off is exceedingly uncommon. I was really surprised to find that out coming from the USA, where it's the most flexible part of your compensation.

    In general, labour laws here are treated as gospel, so whatever the books say is what you get. As an example I took a sick day before I had been at my job for six months, assuming it would just get borrowed against my future entitlement to sick leave. I was shocked to get a paycheck that was 10% light. I had to go through multiple layers of management to get the borrowed time approved, as they had never encountered such a proposition before. I was pretty upset at the time, because it just felt really impersonal that they just threw the book at me and made a big show of the whole thing, but now I realise that's just the way it is here. Government is very involved in worker benefits, and employers just stand back and do as they're told.

    Conversely, when my grandmother died overseas, I mentioned it to my manager, just sort of off-hand, not thinking anything of it, and he encouraged me to take a few days off as part of my bereavement entitlement. That would never happen in the USA. So again, it's all by the book. Sometimes the book works in your favour.

  5. #5
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    It seems to follow whatever the specific industry norms are here in NZ. In higher ed we mostly get 5 weeks annual leave and "no limit" sick leave for academic staff, but there are compulsory leave days that render it closer to 4 weeks.

  6. #6
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    Yes, working in the public sector, I started with the legal minimum but got more after three years. We had more sick leave than the private company I work for now allows. However, compared to what I had in the UK (same public sector), it is rather stingy.

  7. #7
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    Manks is offline Serial procrastinator and general busybody
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    Yes the standard employment conditions are different from the US/Europe, and might feel a little stingy by comparison. But you're entering a new labour market. You can't compare apples with oranges. I've worked for a small company and one of the largest public sector organisations in the country. I get much better sick leave provisions here but everything else is equivalent.

    It's what is dictated by legislation and many organisations don't seem to offer much in the way of benefits/conditions by way of a differentiator. I don't know why but perhaps it's cultural. Maybe it comes back to that Tall Poppy Syndrome that most kiwis have?

    Another thing I've found is many organisations will only pay the minimum pension/kiwisaver contribution. Anything higher is a rarity and doesn't appear to be negotiable. But you find the odd gem. My organisation pays 9% super contribution. That's an exception. Especially in the public sector.

    You can only ask. But don't be surprised if the answer is no.

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