Understanding school employment

Legislation and agreements

A number of legal requirements, Ministry of Education regulations and agreements exist for employment.


Education and Training Act 2020 – key sections: 585-621

Children's Act 2014 – sets out the requirements for safety checking children’s workers 

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – sets out the requirements for keeping people at work safe from harm

State Sector Act 1988 – has relevance

Employment Relations Act 2000 – has relevance


NAG 3 relates to board and management legal responsibilities for personnel and employment matters, industrial policies, and being a good employer.

Employment agreements 

Employment agreements confirm the conditions of staff employment. Each staff member must have an employment agreement.

You can find the collective agreements and templates for individual employment agreements on the Ministry of Education website:

Collective agreements

Individual employment agreements

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The regular arrival of correct pay means staff can meet their financial commitments. Even a few dollars missed off a payment or, even worse, having to wait for pay can result in financial difficulties for people.

This list will help you check that your school is using all the staffing it is entitled to and your staff members are getting paid.

  • Confirm the staffing levels determined and paid for by the Ministry of Education.
  • Confirm who is paid directly by the Ministry of Education from Teachers Salaries (TS).
  • Confirm other staffing determined and paid for by the board of trustees.
  • Confirm who is paid from the Operational Grant (BG).
  • Confirm the full cost of wages and salaries to be paid from the Operational Grant for the year matches budget expectations.
  • Check the SUE (Staff Usage and Expenditure) reports to see that all staff members have been paid correctly. Their level of pay must fit the conditions of their employment agreement. This includes special allowances, responsibility payments, and any adjustments from a previous pay period.
  • Confirm that your school’s banking staffing processes follow the pattern you expect.
  • Ensure pay adjustments for the next pay period are made before the "cut-off" time laid down by your pay authority.

See also:

School staffing – Ministry of Education

Information for principals – Novopay website

How banking staffing links to leading learning

It is 26 April. You need additional teacher hours to deliver a 10-day gifted and talented programme during August. Make a practice copy of your banking staffing spreadsheet and set this up so that in August you can employ another full teacher for the equivalent of 10 days.

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Appointing staff

As an educational leader, you will seek the best appointees for your school. Use processes that ensure new staff members are able and ready to help advance school development.

This list will help you plan the steps you need to work through for staff appointments.

  • Check whether you are in position to offer a position and what type of appointment, if any, you can or should make. Use curriculum needs, Ministry of Education regulations, confirmed staffing levels, and board of trustees' budget limitations.
  • Know and use the school’s advertising and appointment procedures. Ensure your procedures meet the requirements of the Collective Employment Agreements. Use NZSTA guidelines to assist.
  • Be very methodical building a picture of each applicant on your short list. During the selection and appointment process, carefully check the background and performance of applicants. Start with registration, contact all referees, ask searching questions about capability, and think of and ask about what has not been stated on paper or in an interview. 
  • Know and use the school induction processes to help the new staff member to adapt to their new place of employment.

See also:

Governance & Employment – NZSTA website

Police vetting for schools and kura Māori – Ministry of Education

Induction and mentoring – Teaching Council

How staff changes link to leading learning

It is 29 June. A permanent teacher resigned yesterday, taking effect from the end of term 3. She is teaching a composite year 3–4 class if you are in a primary school, or a teacher of health and physical education if you are in a secondary school. Some members of staff and your board chair lobby you to immediately advertise the position in the Education Gazette. It closes at 5.00pm tomorrow. 

What are you, as the educational leader, going to do about this by noon tomorrow?

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Concurrence is Ministry of Education approval to offer an employee different terms or conditions from those set out in the collective agreements or ministry individual employment agreements (IEAs). As boards have the authority to offer extra payments to teachers, concurrence is most commonly sought for different terms or conditions to principals. 

Concurrence is not guaranteed and each application is considered on its own merits.

Section 75, State Sector Act – Legislation website

Concurrence for principals

Boards can apply for approval – concurrence – to offer extra pay or benefits to a principal who takes on duties and responsibilities that are outside the scope of a principal’s normal duties and responsibilities.

Boards need to be able to show that the extra payment or benefit:

  • will further the aims of the school
  • will not put the school at risk of negative publicity
  • in the case of sensitive payments, will have no, or very small, personal benefit for the principal – either actual or perceived
  • represents the best value for money
  • is within the board’s budget.

The Ministry has granted pre-approval to boards for some types of sensitive payment, for example, home internet charges.

For all other extra payments or benefits, boards must request and gain concurrence before making a formal offer to a principal. Retrospective concurrence is not granted for past payments for which concurrence has neither been sought nor granted.

Reasons usually considered an acceptable basis for extra pay or benefits include management of and responsibility for:

  • a residential or boarding hostel owned by the board of trustees
  • an additional unit or functions that occur across a number of schools, for example, an alternative education unit
  • a significant initiative that earns extra revenue for the school and is in addition to the principal’s normal role
  • a school that is considered an exemplar of practice from which other schools seek information and advice on achieving and maintaining high levels of practice.

Reasons usually not considered an acceptable basis for additional remuneration include providing:

  • a performance incentive for a principal
  • a recruitment or retention incentive for a principal
  • a personal benefit, such as health insurance, club or gym membership, private use of a board-owned vehicle, or subsidised housing.

For full information on when and how to apply for concurrence for principals, see the Ministry of Education website:

Circular on principal concurrence

Special terms or conditions (concurrence)

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Teacher performance

Teacher registration, performance management, and appraisal are parts of the New Zealand school scene. They are confirmed as law in the State Sector Act, Education Act, and Employment Relations Act. 

You must follow the requirements of these acts and related Ministry of Education regulations and requirements.

You must be aware of how collective or individual employment agreements regulate some aspects of appraisal and performance.  

This list will help you to review how you approach individual and team performance at your school.

  • We have a robust appraisal system in our school.
  • I can use this appraisal system to understand the qualities of our teachers.
  • I know and am satisfied with teacher development processes at our school.
  • I know from regular reviews how teacher development is progressing and how to formulate development goals and strategies for the future.
  • I know and understand the processes related to dealing with teacher competency issues.
  • I am prepared to apply those processes to deal with competency issues.

See also:

Performance management – Ministry of Education

Professional growth cycle – Teaching Council 

Our code, Our standards – Teaching Council 

Tātaiako – Teaching Council 

Tapasā – Teaching Council

Leadership dilemmas: A matter of performance

A complaint about teacher performance

During the first month of being a principal, you have fielded three expressions of concern about Mr M, a permanent teacher, failing to provide his students with quality teaching. Two of the concerns came from other staff and one is from a parent you listened to at the latest school get-together. The word "concerns" is used because no-one has specifically used the words "complaint" or "competency", or committed their views to paper.

What do you do?

Team development

It is 1 June. Your new school’s teachers are used to a model of in-service training that fits around going to courses, occasional visits to other schools to observe, and financial assistance to pay fees for university papers. School staff meetings are fortnightly and follow a pattern of dealing with school calendar events and administrative processes.

After six months of observing and listening, you have come to the conclusion that all the staff would benefit from dialogue and collaboration about how to achieve the teaching and learning goals laid out in the school's strategic plan.

How will you set about progressing your idea?

Further information

Employment section in Education and the law

People and employment – Ministry of Education

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