Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement


The ECECA has now been finalised and signed by the respective parties. If you are a ratified employer who is party to the new agreement you need to:

  • Familiarise yourself with the new agreement
  • Make sure you know which of your staff are union members and which are not
  • Make sure you have the appropriate salary steps in your pay system commencing on the applicable effective dates, noting the changes to the adult minimum wage increase
  • Note the changes to Part 16 - Staff Meetings, which brings the time spent in staff meetings into the total number of hours of work for the fortnight
  • Progression is now calculated on 2080 hours since anniversary of their employment
  • Q3+ entry has moved from Step 2 to Step 3 to align with the KTCA
  • Steps 6-8 of the Teacher Scale moves to the same amount as Step 5 (1 January 2022)

You can read the 2021-2022 Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement here.

About the ECE collective agreement

The Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement of Aotearoa New Zealand (ECECA) sets the standard for quality early childhood education and care and positive staff-employer relationships in early childhood education (ECE) services.

A key use of the agreement (in addition to agreeing terms and conditions for ECE teachers) is by the Ministry of Education for funding attestation purposes.

Parties to the agreement

The parties to the ECECA include employers (listed in Schedule A to the collective agreement) and NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Any ECE service employer can choose to be a party to the ECECA.

Te Rito Maioha is not a party to the collective agreement, but we are a bargaining agent on behalf of employers who have authorised us to represent them and have paid our bargaining fee. We represent both Te Rito Maioha member centres and non-member centres that have authorised us to represent them.

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is when the parties to the agreement (that is, at least one registered union and at least one employer) hold meetings to set up a collective employment agreement, or to review the terms of an existing collective agreement.

Successful collective bargaining, and the ratification of a collective employment agreement, can improve productivity in workplaces by building workplace relationships. The bargaining process provides a way to exchange ideas, promote parties’ common interests, and manage separate interests effectively. It can be a cost-effective way of agreeing staff employment terms and conditions.

Bargaining generally takes place over two to four days in Wellington. This involves both face-to-face negotiations and additional communications between the bargaining parties.

An employer party to the ECECA or NZEI Te Riu Roa can initiate bargaining by giving the other parties an initiation of bargaining notice, up to 60 days before the current collective agreement is due to expire.

Why services choose Te Rito Maioha as their bargaining agent

ECE centres/services can choose to attend bargaining meetings and represent themselves. However, many find the travel, time and expertise demands of bargaining too costly and difficult and prefer to pay for representation by a bargaining agent.

The role of a bargaining agent involves drafting and collating employer claims, analysing union claims, leading the bargaining team in negotiations, and managing the ratification process following settlement of the collective agreement.

Te Rito Maioha convenes a team to lead the negotiations on behalf of the employers we represent. The team generally consists of an employment lawyer we engage to assist the bargaining and up to three ECECA employers, supported by our Chief Executive, General Manager People and Capability and employer representatives. 

During bargaining, our negotiating team presents claims on behalf of the employers we represent.

How to register for representation by Te Rito Maioha

Existing employers party to the ECECA:

When NZEI initiate bargaining for a new agreement, we send out communications to all employers who are party to the ECECA and ask if they would like us to represent them in bargaining. Employers complete a bargaining authority form and send it to us, and they pay the applicable fee.

Employers who no longer want Te Rito Maioha to represent them must email NZEI Te Riu Roa ([email protected]) to advise whether they intend to represent themselves or to nominate an alternative bargaining agent.

Under section 44A of the Employment Relations Act, employers who want to opt out of the ECECA altogether must do so within 10 days of receiving the notice initiating bargaining. This involves providing written notice to all other parties to the agreement. These employers will then need to negotiate individual agreements or a separate collective agreement. Te Rito Maioha can help employers navigate the opting-out process (a fee will apply).

New employers wishing to be a party to the ECECA:

Employers that are not party to the current collective agreement but would like to be a party to the next version of the agreement, can sign up for representation by us.

Employers can email our General Manager People and Capability, Carolyn Mitchell on [email protected] or call her on 04 471 6814 to find out more about the bargaining process and to request a bargaining authority form.

Bargaining fees

Te Rito Maioha charges a fee for acting as a bargaining agent. The fees covers the costs incurred by our bargaining team, as well as the costs of external legal advice on employment relations as appropriate. We calculate the fee based on estimated costs and actual costs from previous negotiations. It also takes into account the need to fund future working parties that may be agreed through negotiations. For example, this year, a working group of representatives from both parties is progressing work on the pay equity process.

Te Rito Maioha centre members receive a significant discount on the fee. Non-member centres pay the full fee.

The 2022 bargaining fees are:

  • Members: $337.00 (inc. GST)
  • Non-members: $500.00 (inc. GST).

Where to get more information

For more information on the ECECA and help with registration, please email our General Manager People and Capability | Kaiwhakahaere Pūmanawa Tangata, Carolyn Mitchell on [email protected] or call her on 04 471 6814.