Circular 2017/02 - School Staff Standing for Election to Parliament

This circular is about the requirements under the Electoral Act 1993 for school staff who are standing for election to Parliament.

Date 17 May 2017 | Circular 2017/02 | Category Employment Relations

This circular is about the requirements under the Electoral Act 1993 for school staff who are standing for election to Parliament.

This circular replaces 2014/25 - School Staff Standing for Election to Parliament.

The action needed is to bring to the attention of boards of trustees, principals, and all school staff who are employed by the board of trustees. 

It is intended for Boards of trustees, principals and staff of all state and state-integrated schools.

For more information Contact your NZ School Trustees Association about human resource issues generally on 0800 782 435.  Email the Ministry of Education's Employment Relations Unit:


The Electoral Act 1993 sets out legal requirements for school employees standing for election to Parliament. This circular summarises these requirements.
Note that this information applies only to school staff employed by the schools’ board of trustees. If someone working at your school is employed by, for example, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry’s requirements will apply to them. 

General Information

Under the Electoral Act 1993, employees of boards of trustees are considered to be State servants and are entitled to stand for election to Parliament, subject to the provisions of that Act.

If a staff member intends to stand for election, they must:

  • notify their board of their intention to stand for election, and
  • take leave from at least nomination day to the first working day after polling day.


Employees of boards of trustees standing for election to Parliament must take leave, at a minimum, from nomination day to the first working day after polling day.

Nomination day is a day between 20 and 27 days (usually 25 days) before an election. The exact date will be notified by the returning officer.

If a board of trustees believes that an employee’s candidacy will materially affect their ability to carry out their duties satisfactorily, the board can require leave to start before nomination day. This is a decision for boards to make after consultation with the employee.

When an employee is on leave because they are standing for election to Parliament:

  • they cannot carry out any normal work duties, and
  • they cannot receive remuneration, except any annual leave or other leave entitlement they may be owed. 

If an employee is elected to Parliament

If an employee is elected to Parliament, they are considered to have vacated their employment.

The exception to this is where a person may have been elected and vacated their employment, but their election is later made void (such as after a recount of a very close election). In these cases, the person can return to their job if certain conditions are met. We recommend boards seek advice from the NZ School Trustees Association or their chosen employment adviser if this situation occurs.

Set out below are relevant excerpts from the Electoral Act 1993

52 Candidacy and election of State servants

(2) Any State servant who desires to become a candidate for election as a member of Parliament shall be placed on leave of absence for the purposes of his or her candidature.
(3) Subject to subsection (4) of this section, the period of leave shall commence on nomination day, and, in the event of his or her nomination as a constituency candidate or of the inclusion of his or her name in a list submitted under section 127 of this Act, shall continue until the first working day after polling day, unless, in any case where he or she is a constituency candidate, he or she withdraws his or her nomination.
(4) Where the employer of any State servant is satisfied that the State servant desires to become a candidate and that the candidacy will materially affect the ability of that State servant—
(a) To carry out satisfactorily his or her duties as a State servant; or
(b) To be seen as independent in relation to particular duties,—
the period of leave shall, if the employer so determines after consultation with the State servant, commence before nomination day on a day appointed by the employer.
(5) During the period of his or her leave, the State servant shall not be required or permitted to carry out any of his or her official duties, nor shall he or she be entitled to receive any salary or other remuneration as a State servant in respect of that period or any part thereof, except to the extent to which he or she takes during that period any leave with pay to which he or she is entitled:

53 Members disqualified from being State servants

(2) If any State servant is elected as a member of Parliament, he or she shall forthwith on being declared so elected, be deemed, subject to subsections (3) to (6) of this section, to have vacated his or her office as a State servant. 

Issued by

Tanya Duncan, Acting Senior Manager Employment Relations, Education Workforce, Early Learning and Student Achievement
Ministry of Education, National Office, Matauranga House, 33 Bowen Street, Wellington 6011
PO Box 1666, Wellington 6140, New Zealand, Phone 04-463 8000, Fax 04-463 8001, Email

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