Release to Work - a guide for employers

Almost all people in prison will be released into the community at some point.

People who have stable employment are less likely to re-offend. We work with people in prison to prepare them for work, through training, qualifications and on the job experience.

What is Release to Work?

Our Release to Work programme gives people who are near release the opportunity to maintain, develop or re-establish work skills and habits necessary for stable employment by temporarily releasing them during the day to work.

Release to Work employees receive the same rate as other employees at a similar level of skill and experience, and use their wages to pay board to Corrections, any fines or reparation to victims or save for their release


Public safety is Corrections' absolute priority. People on the Release to Work programme have been assessed by an advisory panel and have shown that they can be trusted and have a desire to be productive members f their communities. Release to Work employees are monitored by GPS ankle bracelets where possible. If GPS coverage is not available, Corrections works with employers to design an appropriate monitoring system.

People on Release to Work have shown themselves to be highly motivated and trustworthy, and have taken real steps to address their offending.

We have the skills and experience you need now.

Our workers cover a wide range of industries and skill sets, and are available now.

Manufacturing, technology and engineeringConstructionServiceFarming, forestry and horticulture
Automotive engineeringBrick and block layingBakeryContract work parties
Furniture making and upholsteryCarpentryBarista skillsFarming; sheep, dairy, pig, and dry stock
Light engineeringCrane operationCatering operationsForestry crews
Mechanical engineeringDevanningDistributionForklift operations
Printing and layoutElectrical workFood preparation, safety and deliveryGround maintenance
Sheet metal workPainting and decoratingKitchen dutiesHorticulture
Small motorsPlasteringLaundry operationsNursery and organic
Textiles, sewing and overlockingPlumbing, gas fitting, and drain layingOperation of trolleys and forklifts 
Timber processing and joineryPrecast concretingWarehousing and devanning 
Use of industrial machineryRefurbishment  

Not all industry skills are taught at every prison. Check with your regional employment adviser to see if we have employees that match the skills you need.

Don’t just take our word for it.

Our distribution centres have been part of the Release to Work programme for several years with 30 people participating. We have found it to be an extremely fulfilling initiative that really helps participants reintegrate into society as well as increasing their self-esteem and confidence. The programme has also fulfil our company’s commitment to supporting Kiwi communities and our team have felt pride in assisting people to positively move forward with their lives. We see Release to Work as a ‘win-win’ programme and look forward to continued participation in the future.

Sue Fielder
Distribution Centre Manager
The Warehouse Auckland

We are a waste collection and recycling company based in Auckland, and heavily rely on our staff attending work every day. The RTW programme ticks all the boxes for us, and the Corrections staff are great to deal with as well.”

Craig Stuart
Operations Manager
Pink Bin Company Ltd

We have employed RTW people for the last nine years, the flexible nature of it works well for us as we don’t always need them full time. They are always keen to work and make some money for when they are released. They turn up on time and are drug and alcohol free. We also enjoy the level of support we get with the programme.

Dudley Finch
TokoTimber Ltd

I have employed several RTW employees since Otago Corrections Facility opened and have foundthe men to be reliable and hard working. I have employed two of the men full time on their release as they proved themselves as honest, hardworking, reliable workers and these traits stayed with them as fulltime workers. I would not have employed either of these men if they came to us looking for a job on release from prison if it was not for the RTW scheme.

Steve McLay
Managing Director
McLay Boats Ltd

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I get a say in who is sent to work for me?

Yes. After meeting with you to build a picture of your workplace and the type of person you are looking for, a case manager selects one or more people who have the right skills and attitude. You then get the opportunity to interview the candidates for the role.

What if the person is not a good fit for my team?

This can happen with any employee. In the first instance we will support you to help the person fit in. If this doesn’t work we will place the employee in a new role and work with you to find a new employee.

What happens if there are any problems?

If you have any problems or are feeling uncomfortable you can contact the case manager assigned to work with you and your employee. Corrections case managers are trained to deal with many different situations.

Will employing an offender impact negatively on my business?

Anecdotal evidence from employers we work with does not show this to be the case. Some employers choose not to promote their relationship with Corrections, while others are proud to be seen as doing their part to make their community safer while giving someone a second chance.

What does hiring a Release to Work employee cost?

Release to Work employees are paid the same rate as other workers doing the same job at the same skill level; this must be at least the minimum wage. They are also entitled to the same benefits, work or shift payments as other employees.

What if I only need someone for a few days a week or a short term contract?

The Release to Work programme is designed to fit in with your recruitment needs. Employees are available at shortnotice and for any length of time you require, from one day to full time.

Can the employee stay with me once they are released?

Yes, in fact over 50% of Release to Work employees stay with their employer once released.

Who can I talk to if I want to know more about Release to Work?

Contact your regional employment adviser to find out more about our Release to Work programme.


National Office
Employer Partnerships Team
Private Box 1206
Mayfair House, 44-52 The Terrace,
Wellington, 6011
(04) 460 3000

Northern Regional Office
PO Box 11612, Ellerslie
Auckland 1542
Central Corporate Park Centre,
666 Great South Road, Auckland 1061
(09) 306 8350

Central Regional Office
PO Box 9343, Waikato Mail Centre,
Hamilton 3240
Monckton Trust Building, Level 1,
73 Rostrevor St, Hamilton 3240
(07) 839 7560

Lower North Regional Office
Private Box 1206,
Wellington 6140
Mayfair House, 44-52 The Terrace,
Wellington 6011
(04) 460 3000

Southern Regional Office
Private Bag 327,
72 St Asaph Street,
(03) 363 4400