News Article

latest news in employment law

Government throttling the flow of migrant workers

Published 24 May 2021

On 1 November 2021, the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be introduced, replacing 6 current temporary work visas. Employee's currently on these existing visas will remain the same, those visas remain valid for the duration of their issue and the AEWV will be for new appointments going forwards.

The AEWV replaces the following 6 work visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

The new system will introduce 3 checks before an employer can hire a migrant worker on the AEWV namely:

  • the Employer check;
  • the Job check;
  • the Migrant check.

The Employer Check

All employers applying for the AEWV need to be accredited. Although the requirement is only from November 2021, employers predicting employment on the AEWV can apply for accreditation from September 2021.
The new accreditation levels are:

  • Standard accreditation — for employers who want to have up to 5 migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time;
  • high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to have 6 or more migrant workers on AEWVs at any one time;
  • Franchisees and employers wanting to place migrants on AEWVs with third parties (including labour hire companies).

The Job Check

Specific to each and every employment offer made in relation to a AEWV. The job check will confirm the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with NZ employment laws, the skills and experience required for the job and the availability of a labour market test. A labour market test (LMT) shows that the employer made genuine attempts to appoint a New Zealander in the position, without success. For jobs paying below the median wage (Current $25.50 to be reviewed in July 2021), the labour market test includes checking with the Ministry of Social Development.
When is the LMT not required:

  • Jobs paying 200 % of the median wage;
  • Jobs paying at, or above, the median wage in regions;
  • Jobs, in the cities, that are on a skills shortage list and pay at, or above, the median wage.

The Migrant Worker Check

The migrant worker must show they meet INZ’s character, identity and health requirements, and meet the skills and experience stipulated as part of the employer’s job check application.

Guidelines for the Accreditation process are limited and we are awaiting further guidance from INZ. The application process will be online and everyone is hopeful that this will reduce the lengthy waiting times for current applications.

Getting and maintaining accreditation can be time consuming and incorrect and/or unprepared submission delay the process even further. It is estimated that over 24 000 employers will utilise the new AEWV within the first year of availability.

An Application process might include the following:

  • Employers will need a valid New Zealand Business Number (NZBN);
  • Employers must be registered with IRD;
  • Employer must prove financial stability;
  • Employers must have no history of regulatory non-compliance;
  • Employer will need to take steps to minimise the risk of exploitation (this includes recruitment and employment processes);
  • Employers will need to pay the annual fees (not yet established);
  • Employers will be up for renewal after 12 months and thereafter 12 or 24 months depending on the accreditation level.

High volume employers will be subjected to the additional requirements:

  • Must undertake a commitment to improving employment conditions, including pay;
  • Payment of 10% over the minimum wage or be part of an applicable collective agreement excluding this requirement;
  • Must commit to training of and upskilling New Zealanders.

 Franchises will be subjected to increased compliance checks including:

  • Review of their hiring history;
  • Proof of operating for more than 12 months
  • INZ has indicated that there are more checks to follow later in 2021.

Triangular employment arrangements must also prove the following in their applications:

  • A system monitoring employment and safety on site;
  • Have a representation of New Zealanders of 15% or more at third parties;
  • A history of contracting for more than 12 months.

We hope to received updated and detailed information from INZ as we get closer to the implementation dates. However, while we are eagerly waiting, we continue to prepare employers to be ready and on track to ensure expedient and successful applications. If you are unsure regarding your requirement for accreditation, please contact us for an assessment.