How to become an accredited employer

In this guide, we explain what the accredited employer visa scheme is and answer common questions about the process of becoming accredited.

What is the accredited employer visa?

From July 2022, any business wishing to hire an employee who needs a work visa needs to be accredited first.

Businesses seeking accreditation must demonstrate their ‘trustworthiness’ across several areas, including labour law compliance, human resources, and worker training, benefits, and pay.

Accreditation is intended to streamline the visa process, better aligning the immigration, education, and welfare systems to decrease the likelihood of migrant exploitation.

The underlying goal is to ensure that New Zealand employers have access to the skills and labour they need, hiring temporary workers for labour shortages but ensuring there is a commitment to hiring and training more New Zealanders.

Who is eligible to become an accredited employer?

To grant accreditation, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) must be satisfied that an employer:

  • Is in a sound financial position to determine if the employment is sustainable; and
  • Has human resource policies and processes which are of a high standard; and
  • Has good workplace practices, including a history of compliance with all immigration and employment New Zealand laws; and
  • Provides settlement support to work visa holders
  • Ensure employee and employer employment law learning modules are completed

Further requirements are likely to be added once the system is bedded in. We know in 2023 it will extend to employer hiring workers holding open work visa.

Our prediction is that in 2023 for High Volume employers they will need to show:

  • Has a demonstrable commitment to training New Zealand citizens or residence class visa holders (to ensure they are engaged in training and up-skilling New Zealanders and that they make up a significant part of their workforce).

How much does it cost to become an accredited employer?

Along with the initial fee of $740 for Standard Accreditation, $1220 for High Volume employers and a whopping $3870 for those placing workers with third parties there are also a few hidden costs to be aware of. Most importantly, you need to factor in the HR and administration time required to set up correct processes within your company. You must be confident that you’ll meet the criteria if audited. This means ensuring your staff are completing their worker module within a month, and that the employee has also filled in their module and is up to date with any changes.

How long does it take to become an accredited employer?

INZ have announced that the application process is going to be declaration-based, which on one hand speeds up the process because you don’t have to supply all the pre-prepared documentation in advance, but it’s important to understand that you must still have the documentation that shows you have met the processes and criteria for accreditation at the time that you applied. You might also be asked to supply that information during the assessment of the application by INZ.

You must have the documents that support your declaration – failure to show these when you’re audited means you run the risk of having your accreditation status revoked or suspended, and potentially being prosecuted if they believe you made false declarations. This process can take 2-3 weeks from start to finish.

Once your application has been submitted, INZ has given a processing timeframe of two weeks. However, given that INZ hasn’t processed these applications before, we expect there could be delays in dealing with the sudden surge of applications and that processing times are likely to take longer than two weeks.

 Does accredited employer status expire?

Both Standard and High-Volume Employer Accreditation will initially last for 12 months – and then upon renewal, 24 months. Employers with Labour Hire Accreditation will need to renew this annually.

When does the new employer accreditation law come into effect?

From July 2022 all employers MUST be accredited to hire any migrant worker who needs an employer assisted work visa.

This will extend to workers on open work visas in 2023.

What do I need to know about being an accredited employer – what can go wrong?

Where many employers come unstuck is through underestimating the process of implementing and proving compliance.

You’ll need proof that you have been actively complying with current employment standards and good workplace practices regarding safety and fair treatment, such as human resources documents and health and safety policies. You’ll also need up-to-date employment contracts that include recent law changes such as the 2020 Privacy Act and Parental Leave Scheme and Domestic Violence Leave.

This means having a staff member in place who is responsible for putting these policies in place and following up to ensure appropriate actions are being taken to remain compliant.

Bear in mind that if your application is rejected by INZ, you will need to wait a year before you can reapply.

Simplify the process with NZIL, your accreditation partner

The changes to the accreditation system will be particularly difficult for smaller businesses, who often don’t have the resources to employ HR staff to update contracts and gather all the required documentation.

Working with NZIL can simplify many of the complexities while ensuring your application is strong enough to be successful. You’ll be able to avoid many of the pitfalls our clients have already faced.

What we can help you with

Business owners must demonstrate to INZ that they are a good employer. New Zealand Immigration Law (that’s us!) will help you make a strong case to INZ that you can and do meet all their requirements. Primary among these is ensuring your business has a reliable pathway for the smooth recruitment of offshore talent.

Smoothing the path to accreditation

Like so many things INZ does, the particulars of what they expect aren’t very clearly articulated at all and, as the latest announcement demonstrates, subject to change at any time.

Over the last year, we’ve helped dozens of employers apply under the former accreditation regime, and what we’ve learned is that INZ is looking closely at what a company’s HR and training policies looked like in practice prior to the current policies in place. Simply creating policies and supporting documents and presenting them as current won’t be accepted at face value.

In most cases, applications have drawn pushback from INZ, who seek evidence that policies weren’t created solely for the purpose of obtaining accreditation status. They’re looking for a history of compliant behaviour and a record of results, so the more time you have your policies in play, the better. If you’ve just written your policy suite a month ago, expect it to be held up to scrutiny.

Contact us to get advice about your business becoming accredited.

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