Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has today announced new measures to stop employers who breach immigration and employment law from recruiting migrant workers.
“Migrant workers make a valuable contribution to our workforce and have the same rights as any other worker,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“It is simply unacceptable that those employers who exploit migrant workers are still able to recruit from the international labour market and disadvantage those employers who do the right thing.
“That’s why the Government is introducing stand-down periods during which time employers who flout the law will be banned from recruiting further migrant workers.
“Employers who have incurred an employment standards-related penalty will be banned from recruiting migrant labour for defined stand-down periods ranging from six months to two years, depending on the severity of the case.”
Published guidelines and criteria will ensure that stand-down periods are applied fairly, consistently and transparently.
“Access to the international labour market is a privilege, not a right and if employers abuse that privilege by exploiting migrants or failing to comply with employment law, there will be consequences,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The changes will come into effect on 1 April 2017.
Note to Editors:The new measures will apply to all employers intending to recruit labour market-tested migrant workers, including employers who are: supporting work visa applications and approvals in principle; seeking accredited employer status or supporting residence class visa applications based on employment; and employers who are part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. Employment standards-related penalties extend from formal infringement notices issued by the Labour Inspectorate (following a Labour Inspectorate investigation) through to penalties issued by the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court, a declaration of breach or banning order issued by the Employment Court. Employers issued with penalties as a result of private actions taken by employees either through the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court will also be included. The threshold for non-compliance would not include employers at the very minor end of breaches, such as those who have entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Labour Inspectorate. These are employers with mostly adequate wage and time records who demonstrate a desire to comply by agreeing with a Labour Inspector to a written undertaking for how and when they will rectify their breaches. While non-compliant employers would not be eligible to recruit further migrant workers for the duration of their stand-down period, some employers who meet the threshold for non-compliance with employment standards will already have migrant workers in their employment. These employees will be able to work out the duration of their work visa, but will not be granted further work visas to work for the non-compliant employer.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are also employing more New Zealanders.
The eighth annual survey of RSE employers found that 79 per cent of the 92 respondents had employed more permanent New Zealand workers in addition to their RSE workers.
“The fact that more RSE employers are now taking on more Kiwis as well is great news and shows once again the huge benefits of the RSE scheme,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Employers have been able to get the workers they need, when they need them, which has increased productivity and enabled them to expand their businesses.
“The survey also found that 96 per cent of RSE employers believe the benefits of participating in the scheme outweigh the costs, with most of them expecting further improvements to their business as a result of taking part in the scheme.
“The survey results demonstrate yet again that the RSE scheme is a shining example of best practice where everyone benefits – employers, RSE workers and their home communities and New Zealand workers.”
RSE Monitoring: 2016 Employers Survey Working Report is available at www.immigration.govt.nz/documents/statistics/rse-monitoring-survey-2016_report.pdf
Note to Editors:
The RSE policy allows the horticulture and viticulture industries to recruit overseas workers – mostly from the Pacific Islands – for seasonal work.
Under the scheme employers can bring in a total of up to 10,500 workers a year, provided there are no New Zealanders available to do the work. This is consistent with Government policy to ensure New Zealander’s are first in line for jobs.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse is pleased to announce the appointment of Jenni-Maree Trotman as a new Member of the Employment Relations Authority (the Authority).
The Authority performs a very important role in New Zealand’s employment relations system, investigating and working to resolve employment relationship problems.
“Ms Trotman is an experienced employment lawyer who will join the Auckland office for a term of three years,” says Mr Woodhouse.
“The breadth of Ms Trotman’s work and particular strength in commercial law will be a real asset to the Authority.
“I have no doubt that her skills will complement those of the current members and I wish her all the best in her new role.”
Background information on appointee:
Jenni-Maree Trotman has been a Barrister Sole since October 2005 and in legal practice for nearly 18 years. As a barrister, she specialises in employment law, litigation and building disputes. She holds an LLB and a BA from the University of Auckland.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse will today travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as part of an Immigration NZ (INZ) selection mission to interview refugee cases who have been submitted for resettlement in New Zealand by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
“In addition to the UNHCR’s own screening process, all refugee cases submitted for consideration undergo robust assessments as part of INZ’s decision-making process,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“This trip is an opportunity for me to observe those refugee interviews undertaken by INZ staff and gain an insight into the important work INZ staff do on refugee quota selection missions.
“Selection mission interviews focus on credibility, risk and settlement to ensure that the person is not a security risk or character of concern to New Zealand, and that settlement in New Zealand is the right option for them.
“This work is an integral part of ensuring that those refugees who are resettled in New Zealand do not pose a risk to the country and that they are well prepared to settle in the communities.”
Mr Woodhouse will also meet with UNHCR staff at their office in Kuala Lumpur, as well as visit a number of centres that provide education and health support to refugees.
Mr Woodhouse departs for Kuala Lumpur this evening and returns on Saturday 28 January.
The minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $15.75 an hour on 1 April 2017, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse announced today.Read more