Migrant workers: Handy hints for employers

Employing migrant workers can be an option to fill your staffing needs, whether seasonal, temporary or permanent.

Stick to the immigration rules and they can really bring benefits to your business. There are simple checks you should make when considering employing a migrant.

Document fraud is extremely sophisticated these days.

Document fraud is extremely sophisticated these days.

If you suspect you’ve been shown forged documents or visas, contact Immigration NZ (external link)

“New Zealand businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that their employees are legally entitled to work for them. Employers are encouraged to use Immigration New Zealand’s online tool VisaView to check whether a person is able to work for them,” says Michael Carley, area manager for Visa Services.

Some documents aren’t acceptable as proof that a person can legally work here. These include:

  • IRD number
  • NZ driver’s licence
  • NZ bank account or credit card
  • references from previous employees
  • membership of a regulatory body.

Seasonal workers

At this time of year, you might be in need of seasonal workers. Perhaps you grow fruit or vegetables, or run a vineyard, and you need help planting, harvesting and packing. Employing overseas workers could be an option if you can’t find New Zealand citizens or residents to do the job. The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (external link) explains the process.

Temporary workers

Young foreign visitors, enjoying New Zealand’s summer while on a working holiday visa, could also be an option. Find out about your obligations if you employ workers on a working holiday visa (external link) on the Immigration NZ website. 

If the person already holds a work visa, you should check its conditions. Some work visas will specify the company name, location and job title for which the visa is granted. So, they can’t start working for you until those details have been changed.

It’s against the law for employers to offer immigration advice to job applicants.

It’s against the law for employers to offer immigration advice to job applicants.

Only licensed advisors and some exempt people, such as lawyers, can.

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As an employer, you could be prosecuted and fined up to $10,000 if you employ someone who is breaching their visa conditions. If you employ them while knowing they’re not allowed to work, the fine increases to $50,000. If you exploit a worker who you know is not allowed to work in New Zealand, then the maximum fine is $100,000 and/or seven years in prison.

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