This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Do I Need to Serve Notice Without a Signed Contract in NZ?

Question from Ajay, Do I Need to Serve Notice Without a Signed Contract in NZ?

Answer from AI:

When you start a new job, understanding your rights and obligations is crucial, even if you haven’t signed a formal employment contract. In New Zealand, employment relationships are governed by the Employment Relations Act 2000, which sets out the rules for employment agreements, notice periods, and the rights of both employers and employees. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve worked for only a couple of days and are considering leaving your job without a signed contract.

Understanding Employment Agreements

First, it’s important to recognize that an employment agreement doesn’t always need to be in writing to be valid. Verbal agreements are also binding in New Zealand, although it’s highly recommended to have written contracts to avoid misunderstandings.

Key points to consider:

  • Employment Relations Act 2000: This act requires employers to provide an employee with a written employment agreement, but the absence of a signed document doesn’t mean there’s no agreement in place.
  • Verbal Agreements: If you’ve agreed verbally to the job and started working, this can be considered a binding agreement under New Zealand law.

Notice Periods Without a Signed Contract

The requirement to serve a notice period when leaving a job depends on the terms of your employment agreement, whether verbal or written. If no specific notice period was discussed, New Zealand law provides for a “reasonable notice” period to be given by either party wishing to terminate the employment.

What constitutes “reasonable notice” can vary based on:

  1. The nature of the job and industry standards.
  2. How long you’ve been employed.
  3. The common practices within the workplace or sector.

Given you’ve worked for only two days, the expectation for a lengthy notice period would generally be low. However, it’s still advisable to communicate your intention to leave in a professional manner.

Steps to Take

If you’re considering leaving your job after only two days and haven’t signed a contract, here are some steps you might take:

  1. Review Any Communication: Check any emails, messages, or documents that might outline the terms of your employment, including notice periods.
  2. Communicate Your Decision: It’s best to inform your employer of your decision to leave as soon as possible, preferably in writing.
  3. Seek Advice: If you’re unsure about your rights or obligations, consider seeking advice from a legal professional or a service like Employment New Zealand.


While the absence of a signed contract might seem to simplify leaving a job, it’s important to be aware of the potential implications under New Zealand law. Verbal agreements can be binding, and a reasonable notice period may still be expected. To avoid potential disputes, communicate openly with your employer and seek advice if necessary.

Note: This information is not legal advice but a general guide to understanding employment obligations in New Zealand. For personalized advice, please consult with a legal professional.

For more detailed information on employment agreements and notice periods in New Zealand, you can visit the Employment New Zealand website.

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