Caretakers, cleaners, canteen and ground staff
Find out if you're covered by the School Caretakers', Cleaners', Canteen or Ground Staff Collective Agreement. Learn what pay, allowances, leave and other benefits you’re entitled to.
|Level of compliance
- Your role as a caretaker, cleaner, canteen or groundstaff worker
- Employment agreements
- Your pay
- Leaving your job
This page supports boards, caretakers, cleaners, canteen and ground staff to understand the rights and responsibilities that are associated with their roles, as stated in a staff member’s employment agreement.
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
- ground staff, you care for and maintain the school grounds, including sports fields and gardens at an area, secondary or Year 7 to 13 school.
Caretakers, cleaners, canteen and ground staff in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of:
- the School Caretakers', Cleaners', Canteen and Ground Staff Collective Agreement, or
- an individual employment agreement (IEA), with similar terms and conditions to the collective agreement.
The rights and responsibilities specified in an employment agreement must be adhered to.
Who is covered by the collective agreement
You're covered by the collective agreement if:
- your work is covered by this agreement, and
- you are a member of E tū.
Who is covered by the individual employment agreement
You need to sign an individual employment agreement (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.
- Individual employment agreement for caretakers, cleaners, canteen staff and ground staff [PDF, 117 KB]
Varying employment conditions
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 not 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 is 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 hourly rate 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:
- are responsible for the safety and good order of the school grounds and buildings
- do minor maintenance but not work that needs to be done by a registered or qualified tradesperson.
You may also:
- clean or supervise cleaning
- attend to fires, heating plant or swimming pools.
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 are in charge of other caretakers as set out in clause 5.1B of the collective agreement.
For information about your pay, refer to clause 4.2 of the collective agreement:
The current minimum hourly rate is $23.70. Your school board may offer to pay you more than this.
You are a senior groundskeeper if you are:
- in charge of other workers, or
- a sole charge groundskeeper but you also are able to do maintenance that would normally be done by a registered or qualified tradesperson.
You are a groundskeeper if you work on your own taking care of the school grounds.
You are an assistant groundskeeper if you work under a senior groundskeeper.
You are a grounds labourer if the work you do does not require much knowledge or experience and you are not assigned responsibility for tasks.
Allowances are covered in part 5 of the collective agreement.
These allowances may include:
- clothing and footwear (if your employer doesn’t provide these – $0.15 an hour)
- transport (if you have to use your own car for work – $0.59 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 is paid at a higher rate. For example, if you are an assistant caretaker and you do the caretaker’s job while they are away.
You can also get a fire lighting allowance of $1.36 a day as set out in clause 2.3.
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 3.3 and clause 5.3 of the collective agreement.
Also see appendix A for information about handling pool chemicals.
Leave entitlements are set out in part 6 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 are entitled to long service leave.
For more information refer to clause 6.4 of the collective agreement.
A sick leave allocation of 10 days each year is set out in clause 6.1 of the collective agreement.
You can also use this to care for a sick family member as set out in clause 6.1.
Disregarded sick leave
Disregarded sick leave was agreed as part of the latest settlement of the School Caretakers', Cleaners', Canteen and Ground 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 Ministry-developed IEA if the staff member is not a union member.
You are entitled to bereavement/tangihanga leave as set out in clause 6.2 of the collective agreement.
Retirement leave is set out in clause 2.6 and clause 3.8 of the collective agreement.
Family violence leave is set out in clause 6.8 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 6 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 have adopted a child together, you can take up to 2 weeks off.
- Extended leave: You may be able to extend your parental leave for an extra 52 weeks.
- Special leave: Pregnant woman can have up to 10 days’ pregnancy-related leave.
You need to apply to your employer before taking parental leave. The usual notice required is 3 months but this can be reduced in some circumstances, such as if an adoption is arranged in a short time.
The Employment New Zealand website explains how to apply for parental leave.
Parental leave payment
If you qualify for the parental leave payment, it is paid through Inland Revenue. You need to apply for this payment and your school must confirm that you are 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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