Kiwi hospitality workers take on numerous roles to make ends meet, study shows

Many New Zealanders are employed in multiple roles, with more than one in 14 working two or more jobs, according to new figures from Stats NZ.

The issue is rife in the hospitality industry as workers struggle to counter low wages, irregular rostered hours and a shortage of skilled labour in key tourist locations.

Almost half of all businesses across the national workforce are struggling to find staff, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and this is strongly reflected in the hospitality industry.

Those able to find staff are often employing casual workers who are overworked, engaged in jobs they do not feel skilled to do or in some cases completely overqualified for.

The Stats NZ figures reflect a June Labour Force Survey which found 7.3 percent of all employed people said they held two or more jobs. Women were more likely than men to hold more than one job, as were parents with dependent children and most multiple job holders were aged 45 or older.

The figures have been accompanied by an increase in the number of hospitality businesses nationwide, a 2018 report commissioned by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand hospitality finding businesses increased by 534 to reach 17,328 in the previous year.

The supplementing of incomes through numerous jobs often sees a mismatch between employees and their qualifications.

One recent holidaymaker to the South Island told AccomNews: “We were served in a hotel by a very over-qualified PHD physicist millennial who admitted he could not find any other work.”

Stuff reports Chloe Ann King, an Aucklander in her mid-30s, has worked at least two jobs for the past 15 years.

She is currently a campaign organiser for Raise the Bar, a digital union for hospitality workers and has spent many years working multiple jobs in the hospitality industry.

“I always had to work multiple jobs, I didn’t have a choice,” she told the media outlet.

“In hospitality you don’t have guaranteed hours so you end up getting multiple jobs to balance it out if your shift gets cut.

“It’s hard but rewarding, I just wish there wasn’t so much of a stigma against low-wage workers in multiple jobs – I have two under-graduate degrees and three post – and it’s always quite insulting when I tell people and they act shocked.”

New Zealand’s leading industry bodies are working with employers to induce more applicants into careers within the industry rather than into transient jobs with little prospect of progression or higher salaries.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa, for example, argues that “a key enabler of tourism success in New Zealand is having the right people in the right place at the right time”.

On its website, TIA argues the industry needs:

  • Employers with strong capability to provide sustainable and quality employment. Paying a fair wage and providing training and upskilling opportunities are important components of this.
  • An improved view by New Zealanders of tourism job opportunities
  • A tertiary sector aligned to the needs of employers and providing a pipeline of appropriately skilled people in adequate numbers

TIA also advocates “immigration policies that don’t create barriers for employers to recruit and retain migrants where there are no suitable New Zealanders”.

It is a position mirrored by Australian industry bodies, but opposed by unions such as the ACTU, which argue increasing the numbers of overseas working holiday makers allowed to work in hospitality helps drive down pay and conditions and reduces job opportunities for locals.


Mandy Clarke, Industry Reporter

Mandy Clarke, is an industry reporter for

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