The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) process
Effective 4 July 2022, employers have a new accreditation process to hire migrants on visas.
The new Accredited Employer Work Visa is a three-step process which has replaced the following categories of employer-sponsored temporary work visas:
· Essential Skills
· Approval in Principle
· Work to Residence – Talent (Accredited Employer)
· Work to Residence – Long Term Skill Shortage List Occupations
· Silver Fern Job Search
· Silver Fern Practical Experience
It applies to all new hires and to employees renewing their visa’s after 4 July 2022.
The Employer Accreditation application process is superficially easy this year. It mostly asks employers to make declarations that they will commit to various standards and courses of action towards migrant applicants. However, this will require HR systems and information-recording processes to evidence compliance, when it comes to renewing Accreditation in 12 to 24 months’ time. Employees with previous issues, such as employing someone who did not have the correct visa to work for them or underpaying holiday pay, even if several years old, are facing additional restrictions.
Unless a role is on an exemption list, employers must pay median wage (which is currently $27.76 per hour). This is impacting some industries, which were not paying in that range and have had to increase remuneration for migrant workers. This is causing quite a lot of concern for employers where:
· there could be potential disparity between new hires and existing employees; and
· shift allowances and overtime cannot be considered, as Immigration NZ only looks at base hourly rate.
With the rate of inflation many employers have been giving wage increases overall, and there has been some catching up. The downside is that the wide-scale increases, will have a flow-on effect to next year’s median wage.
There are also some surprising omissions to the roles which have a temporary exception from the median wage threshold. For example, “Tourism and Hospitality” workers have an exception, but looking at the detail Chefs and Cooks are not included in this exception and must still be paid at least median wage, although other hospitality employees only need to be paid $25/hour.
Employers need to review their job ads, job descriptions and employment agreements to make sure they all match up and meet the new requirements. As a new requirement is transparency of remuneration, employers will also need to work through the implications of remuneration ranges being disclosed if pay structures within the organisation are not transparent to existing employees; and how they may handle median wage requirements, without undermining any Collective Employment Agreements which may exist in their workplace.
As part of the Employer Accreditation process, employers have to agree that they will both ensure that all recruitment decision makers complete online training modules, and that new employees (employed on a visa) are given paid time during work hours to complete the online learning modules. Employers should give some thought to how they evidence and, store these records.
Accreditation is only the first step, then an organisation, must complete a Job Check. The Job Check is a new step in the process. Once the employer has been Accredited, they can apply for the Job Check. Immigration NZ will vet the job description and the employment agreement to make sure they meet requirements. They will check that the role is paying market rate and that the risk of exploitation is minimised based on the conditions offered.
Employers should also note that just because a job title matches the Green List that doesn’t mean someone will qualify – there must be a match between the required qualifications, work experience or pay requirements set out in the Green List.
In the next 12-18 months, as the new process is embedded, we predict improvements to the online application system, and a number of employees needing specialist assistance to ensure they can access the migrant workforce they wish to employ.
If you need assistance, please reach out to us at K3 Consulting, or Legal.