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Seasonal Fruit Picking – Things to Remember

Categories   News & Updates

Are you travelling and looking for a way to fund your stay in New Zealand? Or perhaps you’re  after some temporary work and a change of scene? If so, there is a growing demand for fruit pickers in New Zealand.

New Zealand needs entry-level and seasoned migrant workers to help maintain orchards and gather the harvest. New Zealand has some truly spectacular countryside, so what better way to earn some extra money than spending time in the great outdoors, whilst also getting in touch with nature and back to your hunter-gatherer roots. You’ll also get your daily dose of vitamin D. Typical jobs in New Zealand fruit growing regions include fruit thinner, picker, tree pruner, general vineyard work, grape harvesting,  packhouse graders, and stackers.

If you’re a seasonal worker you need to pay tax on what you earn. In this article, we’ll look at some of the requirements for working in New Zealand and the tax codes that will likely apply to you.

What Do I Need To Become A Seasonal Worker?

If you aren’t a New Zealand citizen or you don’t have residency, you’ll need to get hold of a work permit or work visa.
You can apply for a work permit if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are from one of the countries on the working holiday agreement list
  • You are between 18 and 30 years old
  • You have enough funds to support yourself while you’re in New Zealand and are able to purchase a return ticket.
  • You are not bringing dependent children with you
  • You haven’t previously applied for a work permit

Before you can work in New Zealand you’ll also need:

For more detailed information about the requirements for working in New Zealand, check out the Work In New Zealand guide on the Department Of Immigration website.

You may be recruited before you arrive in New Zealand if your potential employer is part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. Qualified employers can recruit overseas workers to plant, maintain, harvest or pack crops and can bring in groups of temporary workers from overseas to work for up to seven months of the year.
RSE employers can currently recruit from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

How Will I Be Paid?

You are paid on an agreed schedule, which may be daily, weekly or fortnightly depending on the employer. Many orchards in New Zealand pay based on your production i.e. how much fruit you pick.
However, there is also a minimum wage of $15.75 an hour In New Zealand. This rate applies to all employees aged 16 and over, including seasonal workers. You also qualify for time-and-a-half if you work on a public holiday.
The income you earn in New Zealand will have tax deducted. This is known as PAYE, otherwise known as Pay-As-You-Earn. You will also pay an ACC levy, which is included in your tax deduction and goes towards covering costs if you have an accident.

What Tax Code Should I Be On?

The applicable tax code is most likely NSW. You can confirm you tax code at the IRD site.
Income is taxed at a flat rate and includes ACC levies. Recognised seasonal workers are non-resident for New Zealand tax purposes, however you do pay New Zealand tax on your New Zealand income.
Seasonal employment usually means employment over a specific period e.g. over the fruit picking seasons. The official term for this type of work is “fixed-term employment”. Therefore, the tax codes for fixed term employment will apply to you.

What Entitlements Will I Get?

Every employee in New Zealand is covered by an Employment Agreement. This agreement must include the following details:

  • The names of the employer and employee
  • A description of the work to be performed
  • The place of work
  • The hours of work including setting the maximum number of ordinary weekly hours
  • The wage rate
  • An explanation of how to resolve employment problems
  • A statement that the employee will receive time-and-a-half for working on a public holiday
  • Any other specific agreements, such as trial periods
  • The type of employment – for seasonal workers, this is typically stated as “fixed term contractor”
  • The employee must be encouraged able to seek advice with regards to the content of the
    agreement before signing.

You are entitled to breaks. 30 minutes for lunch and two 15 minute rest breaks. You are also entitled to a payslip that outlines wage and time records and shows the pay rate, hours worked, deductions and how you were paid.

Will I Be Owed A Tax Refund?

You might be!
There are a number of different reasons why you might be eligible for a tax refund. Maybe you’ve been working under the wrong tax code and overpaying your taxes – this is much better than underpaying them!
Other examples of overpayment include fruit-pickers who are students that work full-time in the summer and are taxed for the year at a full-time rate. Also, employees who start working half-way through the year. If the IRD assumes you’ve been working for the full year, you may have been overtaxed.

Here’s the thing: you don’t need to know whether or not you’re entitled to a refund because we do that work for you. All you need to do is supply us with the information we need via our application form. So easy! And the best part? If you’re not entitled to a tax refund we don’t charge you any money: no refund, no charge.

Enjoy your stay and remember your sunscreen!

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