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Posts with tag: Employer Accredited Work Visa

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NZ Accredited Employer Work Visa - Part 2

Posted by Iain on May 13, 2022, 12:22 p.m. in Employer Accreditation

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on what we know about the New Zealand Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme for employers and migrants. You can read that here. This is a follow-up to that article. 

Part two and three rules and requirements of the new Work Visa scheme were announced last week and as we predicted it is largely status quo on both the labour market testing side of recruiting migrants and the actual Visa application itself. 

A quick recap. Getting work visas will be a three step affair including: 

1.      Employer accreditation – an opportunity for all employers to demonstrate they run viable and sustainable businesses and the key people making the decisions are of good character. An online form without any evidence will be presented but what might trigger the department asking for information is (still) not yet clear. 

2.      A job check – essentially a "labour market test” along with evidence of efforts to recruit and train locally. Exemptions to that are to be made if the job comes with a salary of twice the median salary (roughly $55 per hour) 

3.      The work Visa application itself.

Remember - these steps cannot be done concurrently but must be done sequentially. 

Job check 

What we know. 

- The position must pay a minimum of $27.76 per hour based on a full-time week of 30 hours. No work visas will be available to anyone earning any less. 

Advertising must be done for a period of at least two weeks nationally on platforms or a media that local applicants are "likely" to read.

Salary range must be advertised and it must be realistic.

That advertising must be completed no more than 90 days before the job check is filed with the department 

Work Visa application

What we know:

Online application form and fee will apply (I am assuming it’ll be around $700).

Applicants will be required to prove they are suitably qualified by training and experience to fill the role and INZ will continue primarily to rely on Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) to satisfy themselves of this criteria.

Work visas will be granted for up to 3 years

In terms of timelines for the three steps the government believes two weeks for employer accreditation, two weeks for the job check and two weeks for the Visa application. I'll believe it when I see it. 

Losers will be the lower paid

In what is a well signalled but seismic shift which is going to have major implications particularly for hospitality and tourism based industries is that minimum effective hourly rate. In New Zealand the minimum statutory wage is $21.20 an hour and there are many people who work in hotels, cafes, restaurants etc who would earn somewhere between the minimum wage and the new required $27.60 per hour.  There would be a few waiters, dishwashers, hotel housekeepers, room cleaners etc that are simply not going to earn the sort of money required to get work visas.

Pushing up costs of doing business

I've just had a week in Queenstown which has traditionally been seen as the jewel in the tourism crown. It wasn’t quite a ghost town but it wasn’t overflowing either. Rooms were delayed being cleaned because there was a lack of staff. Service levels in restaurants and cafes was good but everyone I asked said they were short staffed. Some Restaurants and cafes around town had closed down because they could not find staff for kitchen or front of house roles. Local wineries cannot get staff to prune or harvest fruit. It is pretty bleak for most employers down there. 

That’s just Queenstown.

The obvious solution if they want migrant labour of course is to pay the minimum $27.60 per hour. That is all well and good but it is going to make places like Queenstown even more expensive than it already is (and trust me when I say the prices of everything there suggests a belief that everyone that visits arrived on their own private jet).  I genuinely believe higher wages are a good thing until it puts the employer out of business. 

At that ‘lower’ end of the market then there are two forces at play that is going to make any recovery from Covid extremely difficult if not impossible for many hospitality and tourism operators — full employment in New Zealand meaning it is an employees market and with plentiful job opportunities and high cost of living, places like Queenstown won’t be in the mix for many local job seekers. 

With the government now imposing a minimum hourly rate for business owners to employ temporary migrants, I suspect even more are going to be pushed to the wall. 

The question is where that sweet spot lies commercially. Given there is simply not the labour available in New Zealand how many employers can withstand a 25% — 30% increase in their wage bills in order to stay in business? I can live with paying $35 for a good piece of steak with great service at a reasonable restaurant, but I really object to paying $45. And if I do it'll be on special occasions which means I will dine out less frequently than I otherwise would have. 

We already have an inflation problem and this will just add to the spiraling costs of doing business. 

The clear signal to employers from this government is that they are expected to recruit locally and train up locals for the types of roles that have increasingly been filled by short-term migrant labour. All well and good but with 3% unemployment there is simply not the numbers of, in particular, young people interested in that sort of work or these sorts of careers The work is hard and the hours are unsociable.

Where are all the Working Holiday Visa holders?

The government trumpeted the reopening of Holiday Working Visa schemes to young international visitors earlier this year I have no doubt to come and fill those lower skilled roles in places like Queenstown simply because the numbers are easy to control (there are annual quotas by country). In rough numbers 700 have turned up in the county out of 20,000 visas issued. It seems to me the government naïvely believed that holiday working Visa holders would descend on New Zealand in great hordes and fill a lot of these hospitality and tourism related jobs. The numbers who have arrived suggests otherwise.

With close to 100,000 job vacancies across the country and 70% of employers saying recruiting and retain staff is the greatest challenge they face this is getting serious (but good for most higher skilled migrants of course). Now we can add ‘skills and labour crisis’ to the list of pre and post covid crises gripping the country. It is a good one to have - to a point.

Another issue facing employers is with international borders now open and the abandonment of quarantine to get back into New Zealand, a lot of young New Zealanders will now go and travel the world as we seem genetically predisposed to do. That is going to squeeze employers even further. 

If I were a New Zealand employer, I would be applying for accreditation as soon as possible and would start looking offshore for talent and be prepared to pay for it. Having that option available or to employ people travelling to New Zealand to find work will I suspect be the difference between staying open or not for a lot of businesses over the next challenging 12 months or so. 

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

 

Southern Man


Accredited Employer Work Visas

Posted by Iain on April 29, 2022, 11 a.m. in Work Visa

In four weeks time any employer that wishes to employ migrants will be required to become accredited.

Perhaps confusingly, from 23 May ‘accreditation’ has a different consequence and process to what it has had historically. You might think the bureaucrats could have come up with a new name to lessen the confusion. 

Obtaining accreditation historically for employers was a fairly onerous affair and they had to present lots of information about their business, financials, business processes and practices. 

With a little under one month before this new policy goes live we are still waiting on government to release the actual rules about what precisely employers will have to provide. 

Here’s what we know 

    There will be an online application form - presumably requiring companies to provide answers about the legal structure, history, numbers of staff, profitability of the business and to make various declarations about being good employers with no history of non compliance with labour and immigration law. 

   No supporting evidence will be provided to the government at the time the accreditation application is submitted. 

   The government will want satisfaction that the business is viable, has a history of compliance with employment and immigration law and that the key people in the organisation are a good character and standing. 

   There will be a fee which will most companies employing five migrants or less will be $740 and for those companies wanting to employ six or more migrants, the fee will be $1220. 

   The immigration department says it'll take two weeks to process the accreditation application. 

   Initial accreditation will be valid for one year

Here’s what we don’t know

What will trigger a request for further information? 

What sort of information will be required if it is requested in terms of for example the character of the owners?

There are two schools of thought about how this process will play out. 

One says that it will be relatively painless and a very short form because the view is government wants to accredit everybody as quickly as possible upfront and weed out the transgressors later. That would appear logical because there may well be tens of thousands of businesses wanting to be accredited at the same time given the acute skills shortages in New Zealand. 

The second school is that there will be some form of triaging system whereby some applications receive a very "light touch" which will see them being accredited without any request for any information or proof of the claims. That may well apply to publicly listed companies, medium to large private businesses, schools, hospitals (yes they too have to be accredited even though they are government entities) where size and scale will suggest that the employer is financially viable and likely to be complying with employment and immigration law. 

It is possible at the other end of the spectrum that those small employers (and I'm thinking liquor, small retail or convenience stores) and the like may well be flagged and asked to present an awful lot of information if for no other reason than to discourage them from becoming accredited. We already know that Franchisees are in for a grilling. As I suspect are labour hire companies. 

I really don't know which it is going to be but the fact the government is claiming to be able to process an application for accreditation within two weeks suggests it will be quick and relatively painless. Call me a cynic but I have yet to see the (short staffed) immigration department deliver anything in even twice the time they suggest that they can. 

We already have a number of employers have approached us to get accreditation and at this point our advice to them is to get the supporting documentation that we believe is likely to be required if called upon so that it is ready. Just in case. This extends to preparing for stage two of the new Employer Accredited Work Visa process which is the "job check”. 

Job check 

What we know: 

You can’t file this until you have your accreditation 

What we don’t know: 

What evidence will be required 

I don't expect the immigration department to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the evidence they will require to satisfy itself that no New Zealander can fill the vacancy. 

This would almost certainly extend to evidence of recent advertising (currently within the past three months) and advocacy as to why they cannot fill the vacancy with someone who is suitably qualified by training and experience and why they cannot train a New Zealander for it. That last part about training has always been in the policy but has for the most part being overlooked in the assessment of work visas. Employers I believe should be prepared to demonstrate that they are making concrete steps to train and potentially have programs in place to do so. Government has made clear they want more pressure brought to bear on employers to up skill and train. 

Exceptions will be made I am sure in particular for those who are advertising roles in areas of local or national skill shortage. 

I do find it incredible but here we are four weeks out from D-Day and the government still hasn't released any of this information.  I cannot say I am surprised. 

Naturally when we hear more we will let you know but if you are an employer who believes they may need to recruit someone from overseas in the next few months we would urge you to get in touch so that you are well prepared and don't get stuck in the pack. 

And if you are coming to NZ to find a job be prepared for work visas to take longer than the current 3-4 weeks to process from once you’ve got the job (if you know what you are doing, far longer if you don’t). 

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man


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