A practical guide to the documents and resources you will need to employ a skilled migrant worker in New Zealand

We know that many businesses are unfamiliar with employing overseas workers and have concerns about the process and the legalities. But in order to get the best global talent, we think the only way forward is for companies to be prepared to recruit from the overseas talent pool – possibly even employing someone they won’t meet in person until they begin work.

We have created this free resource to help you navigate the issues of employing candidates to ensure you meet the correct criteria outlined by Immigration New Zealand when recruiting for your role.

Step 1: Become an accredited employer

From 2021, all employers must become an Accredited Employer before they can hire candidates from overseas. To become accredited, you will need to comply with the following requirements:

  • Sound Financial Position
    You will need to show revenue, profit and equity levels that can sustain employment and the additional staff you seek to employ.
  • Human Resources Policies and Processes
    You need evidence that you actively comply with current employment standards and have in place good workplace practices and policies to make the work environment safe and free from discrimination; create working relations that are fair and equitable; provide opportunities for upskilling and development; ensure pay equity and pay parity.
  • Commitment to Training Locals
    You will need to show you actively train and employ New Zealand citizens or residence class visa holders when possible. That training will need to show upskilling in areas that provide readily-transferrable skills, or new skills for lower skilled staff, creating pathways for promotion and pay rises.

Good Workplace Practices
This includes a history of compliance with all immigration and employment New Zealand laws including but not limited to:

    • The Immigration Act 2009
    • The Accident Compensation Act 2001
    • The Minimum Wage Act 1983
    • The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
    • Wages Protection Act 1983
    • Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987
    • The Employment Relations Act 2000
    • The Equal Pay Act 1972
    • The Holidays Act 2003

If you have been investigated for a breach or found to have breached any of these laws you will need specialised advice on how to proceed with accreditation.

Although this comes into force over the next 18 months immigration officers can already examine a lot of these aspects of your business under the current regime. We expect that to be done more often as the start of the new system approaches.

Step 2: Clarify the job role

Identify the details of the role such as the tasks, qualifications, and experience required, as well as the pay and conditions.

Access the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website to ascertain remuneration and skill level. This will impact the conditions covered by the work visa.

Step 3: Advertise the vacancy

Some roles will have to be advertised. Some may appear on a skill shortage list avoiding the need for advertising. Using skill shortage lists requires care in their interpretation. It is not just a case of matching the job title to something at appears on the list.

For the roles not in areas of skill shortage:

  • You should also advertise the role yourself locally.
  • Any advertising must be for a minimum duration of two weeks for higher skilled roles and at least 1 month for lower skilled roles.

Lower skilled roles will need to be advertised through Work and Income New Zealand and a Skills Match Report obtained from them. The advertising must accurately describe the role and the skills required.

Make sure you keep a copy of any advertising (and any invoices for placing that advertising). Note where and for how long you placed the advertisements.

This evidence can later be used to support a work visa application and is valid for up to three months from when the advertisement was first posted. The same evidence can be used to support more than one visa application for the same position within that three-month period.

Step 4: Assess the candidates

Make sure you consider all of the candidates who apply for the job, including any referred by Work and Income.

If you interview local candidates, keep a record of why they were not suitably experienced or qualified for the role.

If no local candidates are suitable, you can offer the job to a non-New Zealand worker and support a work visa application (step 6).

Step 5: Draft proposed employment agreement

If you are using an employment agreement that is a template your business has used for a while, make sure it is still compliant with current legislation.

Ensure that your agreement includes clear information about pay rates and hours to demonstrate that the role sits within a particular remuneration skill-band.

If you are unsure what to cite as the start date of employment in such contracts, you can simply write “subject to the issue of the work visa”.

Step 6: Support a work visa application

Download and complete the employer supplementary form (Note: this is NOT a sponsorship form.)

On this form outline the details about your business, the terms of the employment agreement including details on pay rate and hours, the qualifications and experience needed for the job, and the local labour market research that was undertaken.

You will need to include the following evidence with your application:

  • Evidence of advertising
  • Any evidence of training (your engagement with education/training providers and any courses you run)
  • Signed job offer
  • Employment agreement
  • Job description
  • Details of your assessment of candidates, particularly of any local candidates
  • Work and Income advice (only if job level ANZSCO 4 or 5).

Step 7: Check your candidate is job ready

Ensure the candidate can document their qualifications and experience to the level that has been stipulated in the advertising.

Check the candidate has a clear criminal record and obtained the necessary police checks.

A successful candidate will have to pass a medical exam, so check that they have submitted a recent medical check-up meeting the INZ standards.

If in doubt, seek advice from our team to review the documentation before applications are made to INZ. Contact our business team now.