July 26, 2023

Government Changes to Employer Accreditation

The NZ Government has announced changes to Employer Accreditation to continue to safeguard migrant workers, however what are the implications on small business?
Government Changes to Employer Accreditation

The Government of Aotearoa New Zealand has been steadfast in its commitment to protect migrant workers and uphold workers' rights. 

The primary aim of the accreditation process was to prevent the exploitation of migrants and incentivize employers to prioritise hiring New Zealanders. However recent reports have brought to light instances of exploitation among migrant employees who arrived in New Zealand through the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) program.

There have been a few cases which have tested the system where some workers are being subjected to unscrupulous practices, such as being charged fees for their visas, facing unjust dismissals, and being assigned menial tasks that do not align with their skills and qualifications. These incidents have raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of the visa process in safeguarding the rights and well-being of migrant workers.

The Worker Protection Bill

The Government has also passed the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill. This legislative move introduces new infringement offences to target lower-level breaches, ultimately combating migrant worker exploitation. 

The bill also disqualifies individuals convicted of migrant exploitation and people trafficking from managing or directing companies in New Zealand. 

The Worker Protection Bill's earlier measures, which included a dedicated 0800 number and reporting tools, the Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa, and liaison support services for victims of migrant exploitation. demonstrated positive results to protect migrants, but the Government admits continuous vigilance has been necessary to tackle this issue effectively. 

Government Changes to Protect Migrant Workers

As part of the government's ongoing efforts to protect migrants, changes to employer accreditation have been announced, which will have implications for businesses and migrant workers alike.

All Employers will Need Employer Accreditation by 2024:

Originally projected to be implemented in 2021, the government has decided to require Accredited Employer NZ status for all migrant employers starting in 2024. This extension goes beyond individuals employed on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and encompasses working holiday scheme visa holders, student visa holders, and those on open work visas.

How Could This Affect Immigration?

Although exact details of how this will be implemented have not been released, The changes may inadvertently limit work opportunities for migrants, making New Zealand a less appealing destination for travellers seeking work. Additionally, small business owners might face challenges in complying with the new requirements, impacting their hiring practices and decisions.

While the Accreditation Status Check Tool aims to help prospective migrant employees verify an employer's accreditation, some concerns arise. 

How Could This Affect Small Business?

Becoming an Accredited Employer through the current declaration-based system is relatively straightforward. However, the compliance that is needed to become accredited could be difficult for a small business to provide. It could potentially burden businesses that lack HR teams to handle such administrative tasks and non-compliance could result in the loss of accreditation and access to migrant workers. One specific requirement that businesses need to pass is the Employer Check. 

The Employer Check:

To be eligible for accreditation currently, employers must meet the regulations set by Immigration New Zealand, including the Employer Check which requires: 

  • Compliance with immigration law, employment and business standards in New Zealand
  • Stable financial position
  • High-standard human resource policies
  • Commitment to hiring New Zealanders
  • No history of regulatory non-compliance
  • Payment of recruitment-related fees for both local and overseas hires
  • Provision of settlement support and services to migrant employees.

Changes to employer accreditation

The Need for Clear Information:

As many of our tourism and horticulture businesses rely on working holiday visa employees to service their business, it is crucial for Immigration New Zealand to provide clear information soon on how these changes will be implemented and whether the same conditions imposed on employers as the accredited employee work visa. 

Not only do they need to clarify the process but they also need to reassure businesses that the capacity of Immigration New Zealand can handle the processes and compliance checks without overwhelming or slowing businesses.

Looking to Get Accredited?

Want to know more about Employer Accreditation? Let Malcolm Pacific Immigration help simplify the process for you.

Our employer services and online application tool have been created to streamline the process of becoming an accredited employer.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and our licensed immigration advisers will guide you through the process, taking the stress out of the process and allowing you to focus on your business.

Get started with a free assessment today

We are New Zealand’s largest and most experienced team of licensed immigration advisers. Our experts take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.