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Improving conditions for New Zealand workers

The Government aims to improve conditions for New Zealand workers by requiring agencies to ensure suppliers and their sub-contractors comply with employment standards, and health and safety requirements. Agencies must also consider how they can create quality employment opportunities through their procurement activities.

Good government procurement practices that focus on achieving good health and safety and employment outcomes will go some way towards improving conditions for workers in higher risk industries. It will also help to create a more level playing field in which suppliers who meet their responsibilities cannot be undercut by those who cut corners by using unsafe and unfair practices.

Suppliers delivering goods and services to agencies in designated contract areas will be required to ensure that they and their sub-contractors comply with employment standards, and health and safety requirements.

As a starting point, the government has prioritised contracts in the following areas:

  • cleaning services
  • security services
  • forestry.

Guidance and resources

Rule 19: Improving conditions for New Zealand workers

Quality employment outcomes

Quality employment opportunities means opening up work opportunities to a more diverse range of employees and contractors, especially considering the following groups:

  • Māori
  • Pacific peoples
  • women
  • youth
  • disabled people.

Encouraging suppliers to extend employment opportunities to support workforce diversity and inclusion can help improve social outcomes, and increase the capacity and capability of the workforce.

Rule 18A: Quality employment outcomes

Paying a living wage

From 1 December 2021, all public service departments must include requirements in their cleaning, catering and security guard contracts that workers undertaking these services are paid, at a minimum, the New Zealand Living Wage, with annual increases.

This guidance provides agencies with practical information to help them meet these requirements.

Guide to paying a living wage in contracts - Guidance and resources

To help you align annual increases to the New Zealand living wage, agencies should refer to this table.

Living wage in contracts rate

Year December 2021 - August 2022 September 2022 - August 2023 September 2023 - August 2024 September 2024 - August 2025 September 2025 - August 2026
Contract rate $22.75 $23.30 $23.85 $24.45 $25.00

To help you achieve good employment outcomes, read our guidance:

To help you achieve quality employment outcomes, read our guidance:

To help you implement a living wage rate for cleaners, caterers and security guards under public service contracts, read our guidance:


If you’d like to share your feedback with us or if you’ve got case studies that others would benefit from, please email us.