A PCBU means a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking.

It's a broad concept used throughout HSWA to describe all types of modern working arrangements which we commonly refer to as businesses.

Most New Zealand businesses, whether large corporates, sole traders, or self-employed, are classed as PCBUs. 

The difference between a business and an undertaking is:

  • businesses are usually conducted with a view to making a profit and have a degree of organisation, system and continuity.
  • undertakings will have elements of organisation, systems, and possible continuity, but are usually not profit-making or commercial in nature.


Examples of a business

  • Retailer
  • Wholesale business
  • Manufacturing business
  • Importer who is on-selling imported goods
  • Owner-driver of their own transport or courier business
  • Fast food franchisor and the operator of the fast food outlet (franchisee)
  • A self-employed person operating their own business
  • A building contractor (including principal contractors and sub-contractors)
  • Partners in a partnership
  • Parties in an unincorporated joint venture

Examples of an undertaking

  • Government department or government agency
  • Local council
  • School or early childhood education service
  • Charities like the SPCA or Barnardos

People and organisations who are not PCBUs

Under HSWA, the following are not PCBUs:

  • volunteer associations (incorporate and unincorporated)
  • home occupiers, and or
  • workers. 

What about volunteer associations?

Under HSWA, a volunteer association (incorporated and unincorporated) is defined as a group of volunteers working together for a purpose, and where none of the volunteers, or the association as a whole, employs anyone to carry out work for them.

The group may be involved in the promotion of art, culture, science, religion, education, medicine, or for charity, sport and recreation purposes. 

Volunteer groups that only employ contractors, instead of having employees, are not classed as PCBUs. A volunteer group would be a group of volunteers coming together to complete a community project (for example beach clean, community tree planting).