The Lowdown : One Work Visa from 01/11/2021

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The Lowdown : One Work Visa from 01/11/2021

On 1 November 2021, the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will be introduced, streamlining 6 existing temporary work visas into one. The process is designed to be simple, to better address skill shortages in New Zealand and to curb exploitation of migrant workers but what does this mean for employers?

The AEWV is a significant change – employers will now be leading the 3-stage visa process which has previously been driven by migrant applicants and there will be fees payable at each stage. Only accredited employers will be able to employ a migrant worker. Accreditation levels are:

  • Standard – for employers with up to 5 AEWV workers.
  • High volume – for employers with 6 or more AEWV workers.

There will be additional criteria for labour hire and franchise employers.

So what’s involved at each stage of the new process?

  • Your first step is an Employer Check. For standard accreditation, you need a history of employer and visa compliance. High-Volume accreditation will be more involved and require evidence of providing support and a commitment to increasing the pay and working conditions for workers.
  • Next is the Job Check which may include ensuring that the pay rate for any job is at market rate, New Zealand employment law is being complied with, and that a genuine attempt has been made to recruit New Zealanders before offering a role to a migrant worker. Not all jobs and regions will have the same tests and it is worth noting that for high-volume accredited employers, jobs must pay 10% above the minimum wage or be covered by a collective agreement or the Job Check will be declined.
  • Finally, the Migrant Worker Check, ensures that workers meet health, character, and credential requirements. We advise that you use a robust recruitment process; you don’t want to expend time and money on a candidate who doesn’t pass this check!

Once you have successfully hired, your obligations don’t end there. You must also take steps to look after your migrant workers from advice on how to get an IRD number, to advising accommodation and transport options, or providing information about local community groups. You must allow migrant workers to complete online employment rights modules during paid work hours and anyone in your recruitment team must do the same. You will also need to keep records to show that you have done this.

So, should you be getting accredited straight away? Unless you intend employing a new migrant worker there is no immediate requirement – existing work visas in a category that is being replaced remain valid until they expire or become invalid. However, if you know you will need to be accredited, we recommend you don’t leave your application to the last minute. Applications can be made from late-September and with INZ estimating that 22,000 employers will need standard accreditation and 2,000 will need high-volume accreditation, processing may take some time!

Work visas being replaced are Essential Skills, Approved in Principle, Talent (Accredited Employer), Long Term Skill Shortage List, Silver Fern Job Search and Silver Fern Practical Experience. You will not need to be accredited to hire migrant workers with other visa types e.g. Working Holiday Schemes or Student Work Visas.

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