Core Worker Exemptions

Find out about Core Worker Exemptions and how to apply

The workforce restriction

The Children's Act 2014 introduced a workforce restriction. The restriction means it is unlawful to employ a core children’s worker with an offence outlined in schedule 2 of the Act, unless they hold a core worker exemption.

What is a core worker exemption?

People subject to the workforce restriction can apply for a core worker exemption. If an exemption is granted, it will no longer be against the law to employ that person as a core children’s worker.

An exemption is not role specific. Subject to conditions, a holder can legally be employed in any core children’s workforce role. An exemption doesn’t create the right to a job. It’s still up to the employer to decide whether or not the exemption holder is suitable for the role they’re applying for.

The process is run by Te Kāhui Kāhu on behalf of the agencies listed below:

  • Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora
  • Ministry of Education - Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga
  • Ministry of Justice - Te Tāhū o te Ture
  • Ministry of Social Development - Te manatū Whakahiato
  • Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children.

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

Who needs a core worker exemption?

Core children’s workers are employed by the state sector or local authorities (including organisations they fund) . They provide regulated services, and work alone with, or have primary responsibility over children. See schedule 1 of the Act for more on regulated services:

You'll need a core worker exemption if you are, or wish to be a core worker and you've been convicted of an offence outlined below:

The legislation does not apply to volunteers.

Core worker exemption process

Once a core worker exemption application is received, someone will contact you to discuss the next steps.

This includes gathering information from other agencies. A panel of representatives will then meet to discuss your application, before it is considered by the final decision maker.

It will take approximately 7 weeks to complete the process and assess your core worker exemption application.

The panel consists of a member from each of the following government agencies and is facilitated by Te Kāhui Kāhu:

  • Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora
  • Ministry of Education - Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga
  • Ministry of Justice - Te Tāhū o te Ture
  • Ministry of Social Development - Te manatū Whakahiato
  • Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children
  • New Zealand Police – Nga Pirihimana o Aotearoa.

The panel will consider your application and make a recommendation to the decision maker.

The panel will consider a number of factors including:

  • the offence
  • date of conviction
  • sentence imposed and the sentence expiry date
  • parole or sentencing conditions.

Panel members will also consider and discuss factors such as :

  • how long ago the conviction was and what age you were at the time
  • your history and frequency of offending
  • any aggravating or mitigating factors, for example alcohol, drugs, anger or domestic violence issues
  • steps you’ve taken to address the behaviour (for example, rehabilitation courses or counselling)
  • any character references you’ve provided
  • evidence about your support structures (community, family or employers)
  • your work history
  • non-work time activities that evidence social support or good character (sports, arts or community involvement).

The panel may ask that you provide additional information to help them make their recommendation.

Core worker exemption process flowchart

An overview of the core worker exemption process can be found here:

Who makes the final decision?

The final decision sits with the Chief Executive of the most appropriate government agency, depending on the sector you want to work in. For Example, If you wish to work as a teacher, your application will be considered by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education.

The following information will be considered, before coming to a decision:

  • your application
  • supporting information
  • the panel recommendation.

The decision-maker will only grant an exemption if they are satisfied that you would not pose an undue risk to the safety of children, if employed or engaged as a core worker.

You’ll be informed of any adverse findings or decisions and be given the opportunity to respond.

When to apply for a core worker exemption

You can apply for a core worker exemption at any time. It could be during training to work in the children’s workforce, before you seek employment or during a recruitment process.

To apply, complete and submit the application form and any supporting documentation.

Core worker exemption application form

Use this form if you work, or are seeking to work, in a core worker role and need an exemption.

Helpful application information

Getting a copy of your sentencing notes

You'll need to make a request to the registrar of the court in which you were sentenced. If that court has closed, send your request to the nearest court to the one that is now closed.

You can find the postal and email addresses for courts at:

Getting a copy of your psychological reports

If you undertook psychological treatment and rehabilitation during your sentence.

You will be able to request a copy of the information held, by emailing


If granted, a core worker exemption will last indefinitely, unless it’s revoked. An exemption can be revoked when decision-makers:

  • become aware the person has been charged with, or convicted of a specified offence
  • have reasonable grounds to believe the person would pose an undue risk to the safety of children if employed or engaged as a core children’s worker.

Right to appeal

Applicants have a statutory right of appeal to the High Court of New Zealand if a core worker exemption has been declined or revoked.

Contact us

If you have any questions or you would like some support to complete your application, you can email us at

You can also write to us at:

Core Worker Exemption Advisor
Ministry of Social Development
PO BOX 1556
Wellington 6140

Further information for employers

It is an offence under the Children's Act 2014 to employ someone subject to the workforce restriction, unless they have an exemption. Non-compliance of this may lead to criminal prosecution.

Employers are not obligated to employ someone who has been granted a core worker exemption. It is still up to each employer to determine if an individual is suitable for any role that they may seek.

Confirming a core worker exemption holder’s status

You will need to verify that a current or prospective employee holds a core worker exemption.

We don't provide exemption holders with certificates. You will need to confirm that an individual holds a core worker exemption as part of your safety checking process. You can do this by completing the enquiry form below.

Core worker exemption employer verification form

Use this form if you need to verify that a current or prospective employee or student holds a core worker exemption:

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