Is employing migrant workers about to get more difficult?

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Where is the Government going with its latest immigration policy regarding hiring skilled labour from overseas?

In my previous article, I spoke about the need for businesses to consider international skilled labour.

Now it appears Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is looking to make this even harder for employers.

INZ is now proposing that employers who are looking to hire overseas skilled labour must be Accredited Employers, with three types of accreditation being proposed.

This process is not easy, and will require businesses to supply full financials, policies and procedures, as well as full HR policies. It also requires them to remove the current 90-day trial clause.

While the requirements for accreditation under the new policy are not yet clear, in all likelihood a similar approach will be used when applying for one of the accreditation types.

The process will take weeks, but once companies have it then they only renew every two years.

However, under the proposed changes, the accreditation will have to be renewed on a yearly basis, and every two years under the Premium Accreditation type.

As an Accredited Employer and an Accredited Labour Hire Employer, I have had to go through this process twice.

The main benefit used to be the fast-track process for the employee (visa application) which took days rather than weeks.

This is no longer the case and, in most cases, it will take an employee four to six weeks to gain a work visa.

So what are the benefits with the current process, and the drawbacks on the proposed accreditation process?

Benefits under current regulations:

Able to secure overseas labour in a more streamlined process.

There may not be a requirement to consult WINZ or show proof of advertising at visa application stage.

Can offer a pathway to residency for applicants who are below the required points level if they work for you for two years or more.

Employee loyalty.

 

Drawbacks under proposed changes:

Costs around $600 for Standard Accreditation renewed each year, and $2000 for Premium Accreditation renewed every two years.

Process to apply can take a lot of resource, especially for a small business.

Must pay a minimum of $55,000 salary, or $26.50/hr, if you hire five or fewer overseas workers.

Must pay over $78,000 salary, or $37.50/hr, if you employ more than five overseas workers.

No 90-day trial.

Visa process takes the same time as any other working visa.

You must demonstrate you train New Zealanders, and have a proven record in doing so.

If you are planning business growth and you decide to look overseas because the local market is not providing you with what you want, then this is what you may face if these plans come into place.

The timing of this is as follows — the review of regional skills shortage lists was to be completed by April 2019, but this had not transpired at the time of writing this article.

A review of salary thresholds will be completed by August 2019, and sector agreements are scheduled for January 2020, with the rumoured implementation date being mid-2020.

As you can see, this could have a major impact on our industry and workforce. We could have a situation where we need to pay a lesser skilled migrant more than a local. How well would that go down.

What does this mean for people currently employed under a work visa? Many answers are required.

I suggest if you are one of those that are looking to go down the track of employing migrant workers, then ensure you talk with fellow Building Today columnist Leigh Olsen at Tradie HR to ensure your documentation is up to standard before sending in any application.

Alternatively, you can contact Peter Lemmer of Network Migration Services on 022 396 5700. He has experience in accreditation applications.  

Their Licenced Immigration Advisor Andrew Kerr can ensure your accreditation applications are submitted as “decision ready” to ensure a smoother application process.

You can email andrew at andrew@networkmigration.com.