The Government has announced that it will be entering into sector agreements with a number of industries in order to help address skills shortages and support economic growth. One of the sectors that will be covered by these agreements is the care workforce.
Under the terms of the agreement, care workers who are employed in an eligible occupation will be able to apply for a residence visa. This will allow them to live and work in New Zealand for up to three years, with the possibility of renewal.
The aim of the agreement is to help ensure that New Zealand has a skilled and stable care workforce, which is vital given the aging population and the increasing demand for care services. It will also provide an opportunity for care workers to build a new life in New Zealand, and contribute to the growth of our economy.
In August 2022, the Government announced details of the sector agreements for:
The following changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa will take effect on October 31, 2022.
The sector agreements were hinted at in the Government’s Immigration Rebalance announcement. They will allow for a few exceptions to the median wage requirements when hiring migrants on an Accredited Employer Work Visa for certain occupations (and the Fishing Crew Work Visa for fishing crew).
The settings involve pay rates, timeframes, stand-down periods for some sectors, and relevant roles. They were created in consultation with important sector organizations, unions, and government agencies. The programs have been designed to match the workforce's needs and conditions. Furthermore, each agreement outlines specific expectations for improvement, such as Workforce Transition Plans and Industry Transformation Plans. We will closely monitor how well migrants perform against the median wage and make decisions about who gets to stay based on those results.
In October 2022, lower role thresholds that are already in place for many care and construction positions will end when the sector agreements come into effect. Prior to this date, the Minister of Immigration will send letters to industry organizations and unions specifying these expectations.
The median wage will be updated in February 2023, which will consequently alter the monetary amount required for different sectors, such as construction and infrastructure or meat processing.
Employers who wish to use sector agreements simply need to follow the regular Accredited Employer Work Visa process. In order to do so, employers will need to be accredited and have a job check approved at the sector agreement wage threshold. If you're looking to join a fishing crew, there are different settings that apply. Check our website for more information on the Fishing Crew Work Visa, including what roles are included and how much workers typically earn.
Some sectors have agreements or exemptions in place that allow for below-median wage compensation in specific roles, but only for a set amount of time.
In addition, some sectors have stand-down periods where an AEWV holder who was paid below the median wage must spend a specified amount of time outside New Zealand before they can apply and receive another AWEV below the median wage.
An AEWV holder who is paid below the median wage can move to another visa type or earn a higher salary on their current visa, but if they spend any time in New Zealand after their original visa expires, that time will not count towards the stand-down period.
In February 2023, the median wage will change, consequently affecting industries such as construction and infrastructure, meat processing, onshore seafood processing, and seasonal snow and adventure tourism sectors.
A few workplaces have an annual limit to the number of staff they can employ at below the standard salary. The cap for each sector is:
The allocation of these caps will be carried out by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Seafood New Zealand. MIA and Seafood New Zealand will contact employers through industry channels with further information on getting a share of the cap.
Care workers who are paid NZD $28.25 an hour (level 4) of the Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act 2017 will be eligible to apply for residency in New Zealand through a work-to-residence pathway starting from September 2023. The residency will be granted after 24 months, provided that care workers meet all the necessary requirements and criteria outlined on our website.
New changes mean a ray of sunshine for those in the care workforce as they will now be able to apply for residency in New Zealand. Furthermore, the new changes will ensure that all workers in New Zealand are being paid a fair wage for their skills and experience. If you have any questions about the new changes or how they may affect you, please Book a consultation with us.