stay informed, stay compliant INZ's latest memo to employers
As of October 29, New Zealand employers are no longer allowed to use 90-day trial periods when hiring individuals on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). This change is presumably aimed at ensuring fair treatment of migrant workers by accredited employers and to ensure that recruitment is based on genuine labour needs or skill shortages.
However, this new regulation has raised concerns among some stakeholders. Employers now face the risk of hiring individuals they have never met from countries they have never visited, without the ability to assess their suitability for the role during a trial period. This situation has left employers wondering what steps to take if a migrant worker is not fit for the position.
Meanwhile, it has become all the more important for employers to carefully consider their hiring decisions, conduct thorough interviews, and explore alternative ways to assess the suitability of candidates without relying on 90-day trial periods. Employers can also consult experts to ensure compliance with the new immigration regulations while making informed hiring decisions.
Employers who include a trial period in their employment agreements risk having their accreditation revoked. This breach can be detected during the Job Check process, as well as through post-decision and re-accreditation checks.
Beginning on October 29, an employer's AEWV Job Check application will be declined if it includes an employment agreement with a trial period, regardless of the submission date. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may also request updated information. This policy applies to Job Checks submitted before October 29, 2023, but assessed on or after this date.
It's important to note that the 90-day trial rule does not apply to applications based on already-approved Job Checks or migrants who already hold or have applied for an AEWV based on a Job Check approved prior to October 29.
Furthermore, updates have been made to immigration instructions regarding the ability to suspend or revoke an employer's accreditation under the AEWV.
Starting October 29, an employer's accreditation can be suspended when INZ or another regulator takes action to confirm compliance with immigration, employment, and business standards. This includes verification or compliance activities, not just formal investigations. Additionally, accredited employers are not allowed to pass on certain costs to visa applicants or those who already hold a visa.
Beginning November 27, INZ will also require accredited employers who are labour hire (triangular) employment firms placing migrants in specific construction occupations to have at least 35 per cent of their labour-hire workforce consisting of New Zealand citizens and residents in full-time employment. This is an increase from the current threshold of 15 per cent.
The New Zealand workforce threshold will now be assessed at both the accreditation and Job Check stages. Job Checks will fail if the new threshold is not met. Existing employers who do not meet the new threshold will not lose their current accreditation as long as they continue to meet the 15 per cent threshold. However, they will not be approved for further Job Checks until they meet the new threshold.
Meanwhile, INZ has also adjusted its AEWV assessment approach, requesting further information from employers to confirm whether job vacancies are current, vacancies are genuine and whether employers can support the migrants they plan to hire.
As a result, INZ is observing an increase in processing times for both the employer accreditation and Job Check phases of the AEWV. It is currently advised that employers allocate a minimum of six weeks for the accreditation application process and an additional six weeks for the Job Check process, considering the current processing timelines.
If an application has not yet been assigned for assessment and urgent allocation is required, employers can request INZ to prioritise their application. However, it is important to acknowledge that INZ typically does not accept escalation requests for applications submitted within the past five days.
(The writer is Director at Immigration Advisers New Zealand Limited - https://nzimmigration.info/;
firstname.lastname@example.org; visit 71 Symonds Street, Level - 6 at Grafton, Auckland; phone +64 09 3790219)