Hiring migrants

Information to help employers find and hire migrant staff.

Why hire migrants

Hiring migrants can be a great way for employers to grow their business, especially in areas where there are skill shortages. Migrants bring new perspectives to businesses, and help expand international knowledge and contacts. Migrants also contribute to a more diverse workforce and enrich workplace cultures.

Before hiring migrants

There are many things to consider before hiring migrants. For example, employers that want to hire overseas workers may need to prove that they couldn’t find any New Zealanders to do the job. Employers must make sure that their employees can work for them legally in New Zealand.

Things to consider before hiring migrants – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

Find and hire migrants

Finding and hiring workers from overseas can be more complex, time-consuming and costly than hiring local workers. Employers should take into account any potential challenges of hiring migrant workers such as cultural differences, the time and cost of advertising a job, supporting a visa application and getting workers into New Zealand.

How to find and hire workers overseas – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

Support migrants

Hiring overseas workers is a big investment for employers. It is important that employers support migrants and their families to settle and be able to start work smoothly.

How to settle migrant staff – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

Employment rights for migrants

Migrants have the same minimum employment rights as all other employees under New Zealand law. Minimum rights include having a written employment contract, being paid at least the minimum wage, and getting four weeks’ annual holidays after 12 months of continuous employment.

Employers that have breached these minimum employment standards may face penalties and be subject to stand-down periods during which they cannot support visa applications.

Minimum rights of employees

Employers who have breached minimum standards

Migrant exploitation

Temporary work visas

Immigration New Zealand is changing the way employers can hire migrants for temporary work. Changes include:

  • one new visa that replaces the 6 existing temporary work visa categories
  • a new visa application process with 3 specific steps: the employer check, the job check and the worker check
  • classifying jobs as lower-paid or higher-paid based on the median wage, in place of the existing skill bands
  • strengthening the labour market test for lower-paid jobs and removing it for higher-paid jobs in rural regions
  • introducing sector agreements for a range of industries that regularly employ migrant workers, and
  • reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand.

These changes will be done in stages and completed in 2021:

  • On 7 October 2019, the first set of changes came into effect, which impacts Talent Accredited Employers only.
  • Replacing existing skill bands and reinstating the ability for lower-paid migrants to bring their family into New Zealand will take effect mid-2020.
  • The first sector agreements are set to be completed mid-2020.
  • The new visa and application process will be implemented in phases in 2021.

Employ migrants — Immigration New Zealand (external link)

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