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Working in New Zealand

Working in New Zealand

Whether you’ve landed yourself a premium job in IT, or you’re moving to start your own business, working in New Zealand is a far cry from working in the UK. You may assume that one office environment is the same as another, but there are some real differences between the world of work in both countries, and it would do you good to get to know them before you head out there. Here, we’ve put together some actionable advice for those starting (or continuing) a career out in NZ….

Before we start with what’s different, let’s take a look at what’s not. When it comes to annual leave, in general, you’ll be looking at around 4 weeks (the legal minimum) although if you’re lucky enough, you may find employers offering longer holidays depending on how long you’ve worked with them. A big plus is that there’s 11 bank/public holidays that aren’t included in the legal minimum, which will allow you to enjoy your leisure time just that little bit more. The complicated bit is that each province in NZ has, within these 11 days, one that’s for the province’s anniversary, so if you have friends in other provinces, don’t plan to get together on these days, as they won’t be the same.

Salary, Tax and Pensions
As far as salaries go, it all depends on the work you’re taking on. For example, there’s plenty of work in Christchurch for builders, joiners, plumbers and electricians, as they’re still rebuilding after the quake. The work is likely to continue for decades and with salaries averaging NZD 5850 per month for a commercial plumber, you’ll be well paid for the work you do. Aside from that, there’s high demand for IT professionals, and like everywhere in the world, healthcare professionals. One of the biggest industries in NZ is farming, however, so if you’ve any experience at all, you’ll see a definite jump in your wage if you up sticks and move. When it comes to tax, it generally works on a PAYE scheme – similar to the UK. The NZ Inland Revenue is extremely helpful when it comes to telling you how to pay and what to do, and it’s one of the best government websites in terms of navigation out there, so you’re sure to be able to find what you need there. You’ll also have the option to pay into a pension – called a Kiwisaver – that is government backed. If you’re staying long-term and intend to retire there, sacrificing some of your salary each month into the scheme may be a good idea, although if you’ve money put away in the UK and a pension here, then you should really draw up a long term financial plan and explore your options with the professionals before you go.

Doing business the Kiwi Way
Whether you’re setting up on your own, or working in a person facing role there are 3 big tips for doing business in NZ that you should know. The first is to be genuine and straight. Kiwi’s, though generally a pleasant lot, really don’t go for bragging and postulating, so be open, honest, straight and businesslike, and you’ll be far more likely to get on well. Secondly, it’s a good idea to get up to speed with Maori culture – doing business within the Maori territory should be approached with extreme care – so do look up the proper etiquette before you consider it. Thirdly, if you’re looking to set up meetings with potential clients, you may as well write December and January out of your calendar, as it’s not uncommon to see companies take long winter breaks and completely shut down. If you’re looking for a new contract with a customer, then set up your meetings for Feb – it’s known for being a decision-making month.

In short, there are a good few differences between the UK and NZ when it comes to work, but workplaces also vary depending on whether you’re working for a multi-national or a small business. Observe how your peers conduct business and take note of the above advice and you’re sure to be able to carve out a pretty decent living working in New Zealand.

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