Caretakers, cleaners and canteen staff

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 are covered by the Secondary and Area School Groundstaff Collective Agreement.

Employment agreements

Caretakers, cleaners and canteen workers in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by:

  • the School Caretakers’, Cleaners' and Canteen Staff Collective Agreement, or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the collective agreement.

You are covered by the collective agreement if your work is covered by this agreement and you’re a member of E tū.

You need to sign an individual employment agreement if your work is covered by the collective agreement but you are not a member of E tū. The Ministry of Education develops and approves the individual employment agreement. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

You may be able to negotiate with your school board to have some different terms and conditions from those in the 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.

Your pay

Cleaners and canteen workers

Your pay is set out in clause 2.2 of the collective agreement. The current minimum wage is $16.02 an hour ($640.80 a week). Your school board may offer to pay you more than this. 

If you are in charge of other workers, you will get a salary increase, as set out in clause 2.3 of your collective agreement.

Caretakers

Your pay is set out in clause 3.2 of the agreement. How much you are paid depends on whether you are a grade 1 or grade 2 caretaker (see clause 3.1).

  • You are a grade 1 caretaker if you are 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 are a grade 2 caretaker if you do all the tasks of a grade 1 but also are able to do maintenance that would normally be done by a registered or qualified tradesperson.
  • You are an assistant caretaker if you help a grade 1 or 2 caretaker with their duties.

The table shows the minimum weekly pay. Your school board may offer to pay you more than this.

 Grade 1Grade 2
Caretaker $672.55 $729.25
Assistant caretaker $660.96  

You will be paid more if you are in charge of other caretakers. See clause 3.2 for the amounts.

A part-time caretaker (less than 35 hours a week) is paid a minimum of $16.82 an hour for grade 1 and $18.24 an hour for grade 2.

A part-time assistant caretaker is paid a minimum of $16.54 an hour.

Pay increases

There are 2 types of pay increases allowed in the agreement. You can get one or the other, but not both.

  • You can get a pay increase of 15 cents an hour after 3 years’ employment, and 26 cents an hour after 5 years’ employment (clause 4.1).
  • You will get a pay increase if you achieve the National Certificate in Cleaning and Caretaking – 15 cents an hour for stage one and 30 cents an hour for stage 2 (clause 4.9).

Allowances

General allowances are covered in part 4 of the collective agreement.

These include allowances for:

  • clothing and footwear (if your employer doesn’t provide these – 10 cents an hour)
  • transport (if you have to use your own car for work – 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 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.

Cleaners and canteen workers

You can also get a fire lighting allowance of $1.36 a day (clause 2.4).

Caretakers

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.

These are covered in clauses 3.4 and clause 3.5 of your agreement. Also see appendix A of your agreement about handling pool chemicals.

Leave

The different types of leave you are entitled to are covered in part 5 of your 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 (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 is 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. This is covered in clause 5.6 of your agreement.

Sick leave

Your sick leave allocation is 7 days each year (clause 5.1), and you can also use this to care for a sick family member (this is called domestic leave, clause 5.2).

Other leave

You are entitled to bereavement/tangihanga leave, as set out in clause 5.3.

Retirement leave is covered in clause 2.7 and clause 3.10 of your agreement.

Parental leave

You are entitled to parental leave, as set out in the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. (external link)

Parental leave covers 4 types of leave.

  • Maternity leave – mothers can get up to 18 weeks off work from around the time of birth or from the time you start caring for an adopted child.
  • 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 maternity leave for an extra 52 weeks.
  • Special leave – while you are pregnant, you 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 Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (external link) explains how to apply for parental leave.

Parental leave payment

If you qualify for the parental leave payment, it is paid through Inland Revenue, so you need to apply for this payment and your school must confirm that you are entitled to parental leave. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (external link) explains how to apply for parental leave payments.

If you work part time, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (external link)  can help you work out your parental leave payment.

Leaving your job

To resign (or retire) from your job, you need to give your school board 2 weeks’ written notice.

If you feel that you are being forced to resign or your work situation has become intolerable and you feel you have no choice but to leave, you may have grounds for an employment dispute.

There is more information about this in part 7 of your collective agreement.

If your board dismisses you from your job, they must give you 2 weeks’ written notice and follow the procedures set out in the employment agreement – clause 6.11 and clause 6.8.

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