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Migrant Workers

Published 01 Jul 2009

(Source DOL)
Migrant Workers - What You Should Know

Job descriptions
When advertising a job in a country other than New Zealand, job descriptions become important in recruiting the right skills to match the expected responsibilities. You should endeavour to use the same terminology as the country you are advertising in and make sure that the position you are describing accurately reflects the actual tasks that the job involves. You should also include the level of speciality, and clear performance expectations to ensure that the worker is not disappointed or disillusioned with the job once they arrive.

In order to ensure that the person you intend to employ is able to work in New Zealand, it is essential to check that they have a valid work permit. While some skilled workers will be able to obtain these prior to being offered a job, others may need a job offer in order to obtain one. Permits obtained based on job offers mean that employees may only work for that employer, in that location, for the duration specified on the permit.

In order to obtain a work permit based on an offer of employment, the employee will require a number of things from the employer; full contact details and an employment agreement are the basic ingredients. The employer must also specify the type of work offered, any experience required, details of remuneration and working conditions. Evidence that the rate you are offering is on par with the current market rates may also be required to prove you are not exploiting the worker.

Other considerations that Immigration New Zealand will take into account prior to issuing a work permit based on a job offer will include proof that there is no-one else available in your region who could do the job and evidence that no internal staff member could be trained up to do the job. You will also need to provide evidence of all your external advertising within New Zealand and the number of applications you have received. Other information Immigration New Zealand may require from you could include industry statistics on vacancies and evidence of training that may be in place to address skill shortages.

When recruiting foreign workers, their ability to speak English will be an important factor. Foreign workers will be required to have a minimum standard of English prior to being granted a work permit. This may include a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) certificate in English language or evidence that the worker has attended at least three years of schooling in which they were required to learn English. The ability of a foreign worker to speak English may also be a deciding factor as to whether or not they are right for your team, as communication, team fit, customer relationships and work accuracy are likely to be affected by their language ability.

It is up to the employer to check that the prospective employee's qualifications are recognised by NZQA in New Zealand. This is an important check to complete before employing a foreign worker; if the qualification is not recognised it will affect the work permit application. The lack of a recognised qualification often means that the worker may not have the required number of points to qualify for a work permit under the New Zealand immigration system criteria.

Law changes
The current New Zealand immigration system is under review and some of the key changes include imposing additional obligations on the employer. Proposed law changes will move the obligation onto the employer to check the validity of the employee's work permit and it has been suggested that the re-application procedure needs to be started at least three months prior to its expiry. It is recommended that you take copies of the work permit and accompanying paperwork for your records to ensure you avoid costly recruitment and advertising expenses. If permits expire without being reapplied for, you risk the employee being deported from New Zealand.

Recruiting foreign workers to fill skill shortages is a practical way to find the skills required in a market with a shortage of workers. While the issues above must be considered, ultimately the decision you make should be about whether the skills and experience of the worker match the position you are offering, and whether the worker would be a positive fit with your current team and your organisation's culture. The key to recruiting foreign workers successfully is to ensure that your recruitment process is transparent.

Sponsoring foreign workers into New Zealand can be a long process and, while there are long term benefits if you are able to find the right person for the role, there can be pitfalls. We recommend you consider all of the requirements which can be found on prior to making the decision to employ a foreign worker.