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Migrant worker visa documentation changes

Migrant worker visa documentation changes

From the 6th of January, the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill will come into force to protect vulnerable workers in New Zealand. This aims to ensure employers are compliant with immigration and employment laws, and deter non-compliance and worker exploitation.

Why is this necessary?

In early November, the Labour Inspectorate ran a large-scale operation that checked on compliance with minimum employment standards across 85 businesses in Auckland. Some were non-compliant with lower-level breaches such as poor record keeping, while there were also instances of serious breaches.
From this three-day operation alone, about 12-15 infringement notices are expected to be issued.

This recent operation is just one example of why the changes are being introduced. You can read more about this particular compliance check here.

What are some of the changes?

If you’re an employer who has supported a migrant worker’s visa application, you could be asked by a labour inspector or immigration officer to supply employment documentation for the worker. Under the new law you must comply immediately or if not practicable, within 10 working days from when the request was made.

This applies to businesses that are considered a ‘supporting employer’.  A supporting employer means you have one or more employees that meet EITHER of these criteria:

  1. The employee was required by immigration to have an offer of employment in order to be granted a visa and had an offer from your business; or
  2. The employee’s work-related conditions of their visa specify they can only work for your business and no other employer.

The Bill also provides an amendment to the Companies Act 1993, allowing the Court to disqualify directors if convicted of an offence under the Immigration Act 2009 (exploitation of unlawful employees and temporary workers) or Crimes Act 1961 (trafficking in persons).

What to do if you hire migrant workers?

Most employers who are meeting their obligations won’t need to do anything. However, there are a few checks you can do to ensure you’re prepared should you receive a request to supply documentation.

  1. Ensure you have correct and complete employment documentation for every person that you are currently employing. While this is even more crucial for workers on a temporary visa, you should have accurate employment records for all your workers.
  2. Check all the documentation you have on file is up to date and easily accessible. You don’t want to be jumping through hoops trying to retrieve the information if, or when, it’s needed.
  3. Review your business’s hiring and employment procedures. Check that there are concrete steps in place to ensure the correct completion of all documentation when hiring a new migrant worker.
  4. Review employment agreements and ensure you’re complying with minimum employment standards including minimum wage, holiday pay, and leave entitlements.

For more information, visit Employment New Zealand's website.

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