Immigration NZ (INZ) launched its new employer accreditation on May 23, which now means no employer can employ anyone from overseas unless they are accredited. Building Recruitment director and Building Today columnist Kevin Everett says this new accreditation process is nothing more than a cash cow.
There’s no doubt about it — Immigration NZ’s new employer accreditation comes with additional costs and processes that, quite frankly, are over the top and unnecessary, as well as time consuming.
There is also the issue around employing lesser skilled workers, such as labourers which are essential to our industry, for a minimum $27 per hour.
Who can be accredited?
All employers must meet a minimum set of accreditation requirements, including:
• being a viable and genuinely operating business.
• being compliant with employment, immigration and business regulatory standards.
• completing activities to support the settlement of migrant employees.
The type of information they may be looking for includes:
• Employer history such as previous H&S, training, number of New Zealand employees, and personal grievance cases against an employer.
• Employment contracts and HR processes.
• Accommodation provided for overseas workers.
• Sustainable workload.
What is Job Check?
In addition to the Accreditation Employer Work Visa (AEWV), INZ has implemented a new process called Job Check.
Job Check is compulsory, which costs each employer $610 per job check and $240 for reconsideration if declined.
For multiple workers with the same job title, only one Job Check is required if it’s covered under the same wages, advertising and location.
Each Job Check is valid for six months, after which you need to get another one.
It is estimated that a Job Check will take 10 working days to process, causing needless delays. We all know there is a massive skill shortage in our sector, so why is the Government enforcing this process and these costs?
There are requirements to advertise each role locally before you will be considered, which will, again, cause needless delays.
• be for a minimum of two weeks on a national job listing web site where suitable New Zealanders are likely to apply, or another advertising channel more likely to attract suitable New Zealanders to the specific role.
• show significant terms and conditions, including the minimum and maximum pay rate, the minimum guaranteed hours of work, and the location of the job.
• show the estimated actual earnings where a significant portion of the pay is by piece rate, commission or other rates or bonuses that are not guaranteed.
• show minimum qualifications, work experience, skills or other specifications necessary to do the job.
What are the types and cost of accreditation?
There are effectively four accreditation types and costs:
• Standard, split into 2 categories:
a) Standard is up to 5 overseas workers $740
b) High volume 6-plus $1220
• Franchisee Accreditation $1980
• Controlling Third Party Accreditation (Labour Hire) $3870
Process time: 10 working days, and for a migrant worker visa to be approved, 20 working days.
In my opinion this new accreditation process is nothing more than a cash cow, with red tape prevalent at every stage.
Opening the borders to skilled labour is critical, but there are costs everywhere and massive time delays now involved acquiring Immigration Accreditation.
If you do the sums, an employer looking to hire one worker will need to pay a total of $1350 for Accreditation and Job Check, plus advertising, the cost to process their accreditation which can take many hours to complete, and the cost of the work visa.
Then there are all the time delays which extend the process from accreditation application to a visa being granted to 40 working days.
As a labour hire business, we are bringing in 10 job types, and in various locations across New Zealand. When you start adding these costs, we are looking at $20,000-plus which must be factored in, resulting in higher rates to the industry, resulting in needless increased costs.
But wait, there’s more!
Another weakness in this process is that we can no longer bring in lesser-skilled migrant labour which is vital for our industry.
As we all know, finding reliable labourers, for example, is near impossible. We are looking for such people in daily discussions with WINZ, and are receiving nothing.
I know most are in the same situation. We pay above minimum wage, offer training and long-term work and many other incentives, yet still cannot attract anyone reliable or drug-free. And other industry sectors are in the same position.
However, as a result of this accreditation process, the only way we can bring in such vital workers is to pay them $27 per hour.
This is not sustainable and, as an industry, I urge you all to take this up with your Registered Master Builders Association branch and other industry associations to have the ministry grant the building sector an exemption.
It is my understanding there are pathways in place to do this, but we need to do it collectively.