Are You Ready? Post-accreditation Audits for Migrant Employers Set to Begin
Is your business prepared to meet the rigorous criteria of an Accredited Work Visa employer?
On April 12th the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced that it is beginning post-accreditation audits. In this article, we speak with NZIL’s principal lawyer, Aaron Martin, who offers valuable insights into the potential implications of these audits for accredited employers and the necessary steps to guarantee your business is on the path towards compliance, not chaos.
Declaration-based accreditation applications made the process easy
In July 2022, Immigration New Zealand streamlined the process for businesses employing migrant workers by introducing the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme (AEWV).
These declaration-based applications meant that those seeking accreditation needed to declare their compliance to INZ across several areas, including labour law compliance, human resources, worker training, benefits and pay, financial sustainability. These new rules were a crucial step in preventing the exploitation of migrant workers, ensuring that the rights of all employees are protected.
Businesses seeking accreditation were asked to only provide a declaration stating that they were compliant. Companies were not obliged to provide proof of the documents at that time.
Post-accreditation audits launching
In April 2023, The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced they have commenced post-accreditation audits to ensure businesses comply with the rules of the AEWV.
If you fail to provide evidence of compliance, your business could have its accreditation status suspended or revoked. That could spell the end of a business’s ability to employ international workers or even for some staff to secure residence. In more serious cases where false or misleading declarations have been made, you may be prosecuted.
Another Short Shrift for Businesses
Although NZIL supports the accreditation conditions designed to protect migrant workers, this auditing process appears to be another short shrift for hardworking NZ businesses, while causing further instability for migrant workers.
Accredited employers who have made the declaration but fail to provide the necessary documentation may face accreditation suspension during the investigation process, creating chaos in an already highly restricted labour market.
Yet Another Compliance Programme
Over the last few years, Immigration New Zealand has struggled to process visas for the much-needed migrant workforce, citing insufficient staff to handle the applications. There was even discussion by the current Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, of seconding staff from the Department of Internal Affairs to help expedite the process. Now, MBIE is burdening businesses with yet another extensive compliance programme, leading to questions about the sudden availability of resources to conduct the audits and what this will do to our already painfully slow immigration processes.
Get Your House in Order
If you are an accredited employer, you have a limited window of time to get your house in order. Ask yourself, would you be able to provide the necessary evidence and records if MBIE asked for them?
Required accreditation documentation may include the following:
• Documents supporting proof of financial sustainability
• Evidence of completing employer learning modules regarding employment law obligations
• Settlement information provided to foreign workers and evidence they have completed their employment law employee learning modules
• Good quality HR practices and processes that demonstrate compliance with Employment and Immigration Law obligations
Good Record Keeping is Key
Proactive measures and good record-keeping are essential to be compliant. By being proactive and seeking guidance from an expert in immigration law, you can get ahead of the auditing process, ensuring you can mitigate problems before they arise.
At NZIL, we recognise the significance of compliance with accreditation requirements and are committed to helping you through the process. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers will guide you in meeting all necessary requirements and assist you in preparing for post-accreditation checks while providing ongoing support to ensure continued compliance.
Don’t risk the legal and financial consequences of non-compliance. Contact NZIL today to learn more about how we can help you become an accredited employer and stay compliant with accreditation requirements.