Ground staff at a secondary or area school

If you work at an area or secondary school looking after the school grounds, including sports fields, gardens and other outdoor facilities, then you are ground staff. You might be called a senior groundskeeper, groundskeeper, assistant groundskeeper or grounds labourer.

Employment agreements

Ground staff in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by:

  • the Secondary and Area School Groundstaff 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 the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand Southern Incorporated, the Northern Amalgamated Workers Union Inc, or the Central Amalgamated Workers Union Inc.

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

We've published the Collective Agreements as PDF's and will be publishing them as web pages as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like an accessible copy of these Collectives, please contact

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

Your pay is set out in clause 3.2 of the collective agreement. How much you are paid depends on whether you are a senior groundskeeper, groundskeeper, assistant groundskeeper or grounds labourer (see clause 3.1).

  • You are a senior groundskeeper if you are in charge of other workers or you are 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 doesn’t require much knowledge or experience and you aren’t assigned responsibility for tasks.

Your minimum hourly pay rate is:

  • grounds labourer – $15.99
  • assistant groundskeeper – $16.49
  • groundskeeper – $16.79
  • senior groundskeeper – $18.20.

Your school board can offer to pay you more than this.

If you work part-time (less than 40 hours a week), you are paid at an hourly rate of one-fortieth (1/40) of the full-time weekly rate.

If you do a job that is paid at a higher rate, you will be paid at that higher rate for the time you do the work – for example, if you are an assistant groundskeeper and you do the senior groundskeeper's job while they are away.

Pay increases

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 3.3).

You will get a pay increase if you achieve one of the qualifications listed in clause 3.4.4 of the collective agreement. The extra pay is shown in clause 3.4.1.


Allowances are covered in clause 3.5 of the collective agreement.

These include allowances for:

  • looking after a swimming pool ($4.50 a day)
  • holding a first aid certificate (35 cents an hour)
  • transport (if you have to use your own car for school business – 59 cents per kilometre).


The different types of leave you are entitled to are covered in part 5 of your collective agreement.

Annual leave 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.

  • 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 5.3 of your collective agreement.

Sick leave

Your sick leave allocation is 7 days each year (clause 5.4) if you work full time and 5 days a year if you work less than 5 days a week. You can use your sick leave to care for a sick family member (this is called domestic leave, clause 5.5).

Other leave

You are entitled to bereavement/tangihanga leave, as set out in clause 5.6.

Retirement leave is covered in appendix B 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 – clauses 4.7 and clause 4.6.


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