Caretakers, cleaners and canteen staff
Find out if you're covered by the School Caretakers’, Cleaners' and Canteen Staff employment agreements, and what pay, allowances, leave and other benefits you’re entitled to.
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The rights and responsibilities specified in an employment agreement must be adhered to. This page supports boards, caretakers, cleaners and canteen staff to understand the rights and responsibilities that are associated with their roles, as stated in a staff member’s employment agreement.
- Your role as a caretaker, cleaner or canteen worker
- Employment agreements
- Your pay
- Leaving your job
If you work at a school as a:
- caretaker, you’re responsible for the safety and good order of the school grounds and buildings and you may also do some cleaning or supervise cleaners.
- cleaner, you carry out cleaning of any kind.
- canteen worker, you work in the school canteen or tuck shop, or as a tea person in the school staffroom.
If your work only includes looking after the school grounds then you’re covered by the Secondary and Area School Groundstaff Collective Agreement.
Caretakers, cleaners and canteen workers in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of:
- the School Caretakers’, Cleaners' and Canteen Staff Collective Agreement, or
- an individual employment agreement (IEA), with similar terms and conditions to the collective agreement.
Who's covered by the collective agreement
You're covered by the collective agreement if:
- your work is covered by this agreement, and
- you’re a member of E tū.
Who's covered by the individual employment agreement (IEA)
You need to sign an IEA if:
- your work is covered by the collective agreement, but
- you're not a member of E tū.
The Ministry of Education develops and approves the IEA. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.
Varying the employment conditions for caretakers, cleaners, canteen staff and groundstaff
You may be able to negotiate with your school board to have some different terms and conditions from those in your employment agreement. For example, you may agree to be paid a set weekly figure with an amount included to cover various allowances that would be paid irregularly. This is usually done to simplify your package of pay and allowances.
Your employer can’t use this process to negotiate terms that disadvantage you or provide you with lesser conditions than the collective agreement.
Before you negotiate different terms with your employer check clause 1.4.2 of the collective agreement.
It's important that any variation in the terms and conditions of your agreement is properly recorded and signed by you, your union representative and a board representative. If you only have a verbal agreement with your employer, put it in writing as soon as possible.
Make sure the variation agreement clearly states the individual components of your pay package.
The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) provides guidelines and a template you can download and use to record variations to the terms of your agreement.
Cleaners and canteen staff
For information about your pay refer to clause 2.2 of the collective agreement.
The current minimum wage is $23.70 an hour. Your school board may offer to pay you more than this.
For information about your pay refer to clause 3.2 of the collective agreement. Grade 1 and Grade 2 caretakers will be paid a minimum hourly rate of $23.70.
The definition of whether you are a grade 1 or grade 2 caretaker as set out in clause 3.1.
You're a grade 1 caretaker if you're responsible for the safety and good order of the school grounds and buildings, and you may clean or supervise cleaning, or attend to fires, heating plant or swimming pools. You do minor maintenance but not work that needs to be done by a registered or qualified tradesperson.
You're a grade 2 caretaker if you do all the tasks of a grade 1 worker but also are able to do maintenance that would normally be done by a registered or qualified tradesperson.
You're an assistant caretaker if you help a grade 1 or 2 caretaker with their duties.
You may be paid more if you're in charge of other caretakers as set out in clause 4.1B of the collective agreement.
Allowances are covered in Part 4 of the collective agreement.
These allowances may include:
- clothing and footwear (if your employer doesn’t provide these – $0.15 cents an hour)
- transport (if you have to use your own car for work – $0.59 cents per kilometre)
- working at heights ($1.74 a day)
- unusually dirty work ($3.85 a day)
- bicycle (if you use your own bike for work – $2.47 a week)
- broken time ($3.71 a day).
You can also get an allowance if you do a job that's paid at a higher rate, for example, if you're an assistant caretaker and you do the caretaker’s job while they're away.
You can also get a fire lighting allowance of $1.36 a day, as set out in clause 2.4.
You can get an allowance of $3.09 a day if you have to operate a boiler and $4.50 a day if you have to care for a swimming pool, as set out in clauses 3.4 and clause 3.5 of the collective agreement. Also see appendix A for information about handling pool chemicals.
Leave entitlements are set out in Part 5 of the collective agreement.
Annual and long service leave
You get 4 weeks’ annual leave each year and you must take this when the school is closed (that is, not in term time). This is on top of the normal public holidays, which are paid days off. You also get Easter Tuesday as a paid day off in your first 10 years of service.
You must take all your annual leave in the year it's due – you can’t carry it forward.
After 5 years’ continuous service, your annual leave increases to 4 weeks and 3 days.
After 10 years’ continuous service, your annual leave increases to 5 weeks but you must take Easter Tuesday as annual leave.
After 15 years’ continuous service you're entitled to long service leave.
For more information refer to clause 5.6 of the collective agreement.
A sick leave allocation of 10 days each year is set out in clause 5.1 of the collective agreement.
You can also use this to care for a sick family member (domestic leave) as set out in clause 5.2.
Disregarded Sick Leave
Disregarded sick leave was agreed as part of the latest settlement of the School Caretakers', Cleaners' and Canteen Staff Collective Agreement.
This means that staff who fall under the coverage of these agreements and who contract a notifiable infectious disease (as listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Health Act 1956) may be eligible for disregarded sick leave if they are required to isolate. COVID-19 is a notifiable infectious disease.
Disregarded sick leave does not apply to leave taken before 14 November 2022 if the staff member is on the collective agreement, or to leave taken prior to the date of signing the promulgated Individual employment Agreement (IEA) if the staff member is not a union member.
You are entitled to bereavement/tangihanga leave, as set out in clause 5.3 of the collective agreement.
Retirement leave is set out in clause 2.7 and clause 3.10 of the collective agreement.
Family Violence Leave is set out in clause 5.9 of the collective agreement.
Parental leave is granted by the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. It applies to a birth mother, their partner/spouse and people who adopt a child aged under 6.
Parental leave covers 4 types of leave.
- Primary carer leave - mothers and employees who are going to have the primary responsibility for a child (under six years) can get up to 26 weeks off work from around the time of birth or from the time you become the primary carer for the child in the case of adoption, home for life or whāngai.
- Partner/paternity leave – if your partner has had a baby or you've adopted a child together, you can take up to 2 weeks off.
- Extended leave – you may be able to extend your maternity leave for an extra 52 weeks.
- Special leave – pregnant woman can have up to 10 days’ pregnancy related leave.
Parental leave payment
If you qualify for the parental leave payment, it's paid through Inland Revenue, so you need to apply for this payment and your school must confirm that you're entitled to parental leave.
If you work part-time, information on the Employment New Zealand website can also help you work out your parental leave payment.
Both you and your employer must follow the correct processes and procedures to manage your resignation, dismissal or retirement.
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