In 2018-2019, the government consulted on key proposals which will significantly impact New Zealand businesses who employ or might employ migrant workers, as well as migrant workers themselves. After some delays due to COVID-19, these proposals have now been finalised, and are likely to be implemented in the second half of 2021.
The new framework
The new employer-led framework will consist of three gateways:
- The employer check (accreditation)
- The job check (labour market test)
- The migrant check
Under this framework, the onus of providing information at the initial stage shifts from the migrant worker to the New Zealand employer. Employers will need to follow a process of submitting an application to Immigration New Zealand with a range of prescribed supporting evidence about their business.
The most common temporary work visa categories for migrant workers, including Essential Skills, will be scrapped and replaced with one type of work visa under the new framework.
The new framework will require employers to hold 'Employee Accreditation' status with Immigration New Zealand before a visa could be approved for a migrant worker. This requirement is likely to include employers with existing employees on a work visa that requires a visa extension.
The actual mechanics of Accreditation are not clear yet. However, it is reasonable to assume that to hold Accreditation, employers will have to demonstrate they are compliant with immigration and employment law, are sustainable, and have appropriate policies and workplace practices.
New Zealand businesses who already employ migrant workers or intend to in the future, should plan for this major change, review their processes and practices to ensure that they will be able to meet Immigration New Zealand's requirements.
Businesses should consider:
- Meeting immigration and employment law standards
- Having requisite workplace policies and processes in place
- Understanding the consequences of being placed on MBIE's stand-down list
- Wanting to offer a pathway to residence for prospective migrant workers
For more advice on how to prepare your business to become an accredited employer, email Nick at email@example.com, or phone 03 545 7897.