All migrant employers will need to be accredited by 2024
The government has announced that in 2024, they will want all employers of migrant workers to hold Accredited Employer status. The new requirements would include migrant workers with open work rights, such as those on working holiday or student visas.
In this article, we speak to principal lawyer of NZIL Aaron Martin, who offers his expert insights into the potential implications of these changes and how they may affect your business.
Changes to Employer Accreditation
Initially forecasted to be implemented in 2021, in a recent statement provided to immigration advisors, the government have announced that Accredited Employer status will be required for all migrant employers in 2024.
Extending beyond those currently employed on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), these changes are outlined to include working holiday scheme visa holders, student visa holders, or those on an open work visa.
But with little information on the intricate details of how this process will work, this announcement will only serve to place more pressure on already strained New Zealand businesses.
Implications for businesses
It’s fair to say that most migrants who come to New Zealand on a working holiday visa do so to travel the country whilst working to fund their travels, but when this change comes into effect, it may restrict work opportunities for migrants.
Although an Accreditation Status Check Tool has been created to help prospective migrant employees check that an employer is accredited, these changes may have the opposite effect, making New Zealand a less desirable place to visit and putting more pressure on businesses around the country who often employ migrants in casual roles that New Zealanders do not take up.
Declaration based process
While applying for Accredited Employer status using the current declaration-based system is relatively easy, there is a lot of complex information regarding employment law and assistance for migrants that must be provided if asked by Immigration, or a post-accreditation audit is carried out.
If you don’t have an HR team across all the compliance that these changes will entail, you need to be aware of the administrative burden and compliance required to meet the Accredited Employer criteria. Those who do not comply risk having their accreditation stripped and losing access to migrant workers.
Small business owners at risk
Small business owners looking to become accredited are at the most considerable risk for non-compliance, and with these added obligations, they may think twice about their hiring practices or whether they will take the time to employ migrants at all.
Standard vs High Volume compliance
One of the requirements of the current Accredited Employer compliance is that businesses must declare whether they are a Standard migrant employer of less than migrant workers in a year or a High Volume migrant employer that will fill more than six roles with migrant workers in any given year. With employers needing accreditation to employ migrants for casual work, this change will once again muddy the waters of compliance.
Clear information needed
With New Zealand businesses already struggling to fill gaps in the labour market, Immigration New Zealand needs to be very clear about how they intend to roll out these changes and what conditions will be imposed across employers.
Another vital question to address is, with INZ already struggling to keep up with data matching and information processing, how do they intend to carry out these processes and compliance checks and, more importantly, what impact will they have on employers?
Employers let down again
Employers are doing everything right to ensure they can bring migrant workers to New Zealand, ultimately boosting our economy and making New Zealand a great place to live and work.
But, with the lack of information on how these changes will affect businesses and the government and INZ’s understanding of just how much stress employers of migrant workers are already under, the government and INZ are once again making it harder for New Zealand companies and migrant employees to boost our economic status and help New Zealand thrive.
How NZIL can help
Don’t navigate the Accredited Employer process alone. NZIL are expert in helping employers with the information and tools needed to become an Accredited Employer. If you require help or advice regarding your application, compliance, or the process, contact our team.