Employer Accreditation criteria could rule some businesses out, and put many others off applying

The just released criteria for employer accreditation will rule out a number of businesses for accreditation, with others potentially no longer wanting to try applying; businesses who could be desperate for specialist workers from overseas.

The criteria are part of a package of instructions for how to become, and stay, accredited.

Immigration New Zealand’s aim is to incentivise businesses to employ more New Zealanders and only recruit non-New Zealand citizens or residents under the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) for genuine shortages.

Other new criteria aim to reduce the risk of businesses exploiting migrant workers, the intention of which we support, but additional burdens now lie with employers that have to be clearly implemented, or they will be punishable.

Below are a few highlights from INZ’s accreditation instructions. If you need help navigating these instructions, please contact us.

A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is required 

If you want accreditation, you must have a NZBN (unless you are a foreign diplomatic or consular mission (such as an Embassy, High Commission or Consulate).

You can apply for a NZBN if you’re self-employed (a sole trader), a partnership or trust, and you’re currently in business in New Zealand, as defined by the New Zealand Business Number Act 2016.

To apply for a NZBN click here.

Your business must show it is viable

This is potentially a tricky criteria for some businesses, after years impacted by COVID-19, as employers must:

  1. have not made a loss (before depreciation and tax) over the last 24 months; or
  2. have a positive cash flow for each of the last 6 months; or
  3. have sufficient capital and/or external investment (for example funding from a founder, parent company or trust) to ensure the employer’s business remains viable and ongoing; or
  4. have a credible, minimum two-year plan (for example by having contracts for work) to ensure the employer’s business remains viable and ongoing.

You need to prove you are viable by showing evidence such as; financial statements such as an annual report and profit and loss statements, evidence of start-up capital and/or funding, a cash-flow statement and/or credible revenue forecast, contracts for work, GST returns, income tax returns, PAYE returns, bank statements, stock lists/orders, and/or lease agreements for business premises or space.

Settlement support activities now rest with the employer rather than INZ, and you have to show you are trying to help migrants settle in New Zealand, within one month of the AEWV employee starting work with you.

Helping migrant workers settle

For example you will need to provide a raft of information to your migrant employees, such as local community and services information like where they can get accommodation, transport options (including driving and driver licence information, and public transport), the cost of living, how to access services such as healthcare, the Citizens Advice Bureau, and relevant community groups. You will need to show them how to obtain an IRD number, how to get any industry training and qualification information and options. And also provide any specific job or industry hazards.

You also must provide sufficient time during paid work hours for these employees to complete all of Employment New Zealand’s online employee modules.

The settlement support activities must be completed within one month of the employee beginning work with you. These are important pastoral care activities, but as you may not have implemented some of them before, it is important to get this right, and be ready to show INZ you are a good employer.

Completing Employment New Zealand modules

You must provide sufficient time during paid work hours for AEWV employees to complete all of Employment New Zealand’s online employee modules. Evidence that the modules have been done must also be shown.

Likewise, if you are hiring managers, human resource managers or directors, or making recruitment decisions involving AEWV holders, you must also complete Employment New Zealand’s most recent online employer modules on employment rights.

Passing on costs

You can’t pass on costs related to your accreditation or employment processes to your AEWV employee, and you need to show you aren’t passing any costs on. We recommended you also review your employment contracts for any clauses which indicate costs may be passed on to employees – these will need to be removed for AEWV visa holders.

For example, you can’t pass on any recruitment, training or equipment costs, in New Zealand and outside of New Zealand. This includes costs related to advertising, recruitment agency fees, employer accreditation and Job Check application fees, and any other associated costs such as immigration adviser fees. And, you can’t pass on compulsory training and induction costs, health and safety equipment, or branded uniforms. And, you can’t pass on costs for trade testing, or tools where the ownership of the tools is retained by the employer.

There are other costs you can no longer on charge to employees, so again it is important that you don’t include such clauses in your contracts, and that you can prove you aren’t passing on these costs.

Additional requirements for franchisee employers

Having not had any indication of what might be required of franchisees, the instructions are finally out.

Franchisee employers are required to be trading or carrying out business in New Zealand, as a franchisee, for at least 12 months prior to the application being made, and a minimum of 15% of the employer’s employees must be New Zealand citizens or residents who are guaranteed at least 30 paid hours per week, unless the employer has no more than one employee.

An employer may use another legal entity’s history of operating as a franchisee to meet the above, if at least 66% of the ownership of the employer and the other entity is the same, and the employer and the other entity are in the same sector and provide the same goods and/or services.

You have to show evidence of the above, such as certificates of occupancy or lease agreements for business premises or space, evidence of bank transactions, tax records, stock lists/orders, evidence of owners of the employer (organisation) and affiliated organisation.

Losing accreditation

If you breach any of the criteria for accreditation, you will lose it. Additionally, if for any reason you breach the Immigration Act 2009, you will also face a charge and stand down period.

Talk to us

If you are unsure where this leaves your accreditation application and you need help, please get in touch with the team at Pitt & Moore.

How Pitt & Moore can help

We offer an initial 15 minute free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, employment and visa-related issues.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Topics: All Select

Elly Fleming

Position: Associate
Email: elly.fleming@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 6714