This advice does not apply to staff who are posted overseas to work as part of their work.

While agencies must consider any request by staff to work overseas in line with their statutory obligations as an employer, there is a range of issues that agencies need to consider for each request:

  • IT support
  • security
  • legal implications
  • time zones
  • cancelling an agreement.

These issues may mean it is difficult for agencies to support employees or contractors working remotely from overseas, other than in exceptional circumstances and on a short-term basis, such as:

  • unexpected serious illness or death of a family member, and the person has to (and wants to) deliver a critical work deadline while overseas
  • significant unplanned critical event which means the employee has no choice on time of travel and the agency requires as a last resort for the person to have to perform some work while overseas

Working overseas can allow people to perform critical, discrete pieces of work in exceptional circumstances. It should not be used for keeping up to date with work or being available if needed.

IT support

Most agencies will not have IT systems and support contracts that support people working overseas effectively. If someone overseas experiences an IT issue with a device or access to a system, it may not be possible to resolve the issues meaning they may not be able to work. Device security, maintenance, and guarantee of return also need to be considered.


Agencies should consider how their security and privacy standards will be maintained, particularly if the person overseas requires access to specialist tools or is dealing with highly sensitive data.

Legal implications

There are several implications around employment and other laws that need to be considered for each individual case, including the responsibilities that employers have under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Agencies should ensure they understand their responsibilities in the context of staff working overseas before agreeing to any arrangement, by taking country-specific legal advice on employment law, superannuation, income tax, workplace accident compensation or insurance, and so on. Employers and employees could be subject to both New Zealand and overseas laws.

Agencies should also consider the worst-case scenario where the employment relationship breaks down and whether the individual would be covered by New Zealand’s employment legislation and/or the employment legislation of the country they are working from. 

Time zones

Consider the time differences between the place of work and New Zealand and agree in advance how the person will engage with their manager and team and attend key meetings.

Cancelling an agreement

Agencies should make clear that, if the arrangement is not working for either party, then it will come to an end and the remaining period should be taken as annual leave, time off in lieu or leave without pay.