Immigration: an early Christmas present & the Christmas present you may not want?

The early Christmas present: no median wage increase in February 2024

As many employers and migrants will be aware, most workers need to get paid at least the median wage to secure an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

This was set to increase in February 2024 to $31.61 per hour from $29.66 – a massive increase for both employers and migrants to meet.

Christmas has come early with Immigration New Zealand announcing today that it will pause the required rate – at least for the purposes of work visas.  This means that the current median wage of $29.66 as well as reduced rates for certain sectors (such as the Care Workforce at $26.16) will remain until further notice.  Note however that the rate will increase to $31.61 per hour for other application categories such as the Skilled Migrant and Parent Categories.

While we expected this from the new government, it is great to see workers and their employers being able to move into the summer closedown period with some certainty about wage requirements for visas in the New Year.

The Christmas present you may not want: easier for INZ to penalise non-compliant employers in future

INZ has also made an announcement in relation to the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Act 2023 that will come into force on 6 January 2024.  The Act introduces various changes, but importantly for employers of migrant workers it introduces strict liability infringement offences for immigration and employment non-compliance, with an accompanying penalty regime.

At this stage MBIE is still working on the details of how it will apply the Act when issuing infringement notices and notifying of non-compliant employers on the stand down list.  However, the announcement signals the arrival of this new legislation to employers who should have a watching brief regarding the implementation of these changes in due course.

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