Core Worker Exemptions

This page contains information on the Workforce Restriction and Core Worker Exemptions, under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

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The Workforce Restriction

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 includes the Workforce Restriction, which prohibits the employment of people with certain serious criminal convictions as core children’s workers, unless they hold a Core Worker Exemption.

Core children’s workers are employed by the state sector or government funded organisations to provide regulated services (external link) (external link) , and work alone with, or have primary responsibility or authority over, children.

Examples of roles that may meet this definition are doctors, teachers, nurses, paediatricians, youth counsellors and social workers. If you are still unsure you should talk to your employer or seek independent legal advice.

The legislation does not apply to volunteers.

The offences which trigger the Workforce Restriction involve child victims and violent or sexual behaviour and are specified in Schedule 2 of the Act. (external link). (external link)

Central government:

The following dates apply to prospective employees of central government.

From 1 July 2015, the workforce restriction applied to everyone seeking new roles as core children’s workers.

From 1 July 2016, the workforce restriction will apply to everyone currently employed as a core children’s worker.

This means that if you have one of the offences listed in Schedule 2, and you are currently employed in a core children’s workforce role, you have until 1 July 2016 to secure a Core Worker Exemption.

Local Authorities:

The following dates apply to prospective employees of local authorities.

From 1 September 2016, the workforce restriction applies to everyone seeking new roles as core children’s workers.

By 1 September 2017, the workforce restriction will apply to everyone currently employed as core children’s workers.

This means that if you have one of the offences listed in Schedule 2, and you are currently employed in a core children’s workforce role, you have until 1 September 2017 to secure a Core Worker Exemption.

The Core Worker Exemption

People subject to the Workforce Restriction can apply for a Core Worker Exemption.

The Core Worker Exemption lifts the prohibition set out in the workforce restriction. Holding a Core Worker Exemption means it is no longer against the law to employ that person as a core children’s worker.

A Core Worker Exemption is not role-specific. Subject to conditions, a holder can legally be employed in any core children’s workforce role. However, an Exemption doesn’t create a right to a job – it is still up to the employer to decide whether or not the Core Worker Exemption holder is suitable for the role they are applying for.

The Core Worker Exemption process is available because people can change. Mitigating circumstances or rehabilitation are examples of factors that might be taken into account.

The onus is on an applicant to provide evidence that shows they would not pose an undue risk to the safety of children if employed or engaged in a core worker role.

Child safety will always come first, and the process is a robust and fair consideration of individual circumstances.

The process is administered by the Ministry of Social Development on behalf of the other government agencies responsible for the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (the Ministries of Health, Education, Justice and New Zealand Police).

Find out more:

If you have a query relating to the workforce restriction or associated Core Worker Exemption, email us at: Core_Worker_Exemption@msd.govt.nz or call us on 0800 462 511.