My Vaccine Pass Lift and Workplace Vaccine Mandates

Mandatory Vaccine Pass use and workplace vaccine mandates have now been lifted for the majority of businesses and we’re now free of them – good riddance you might say. But for employers is it really that simple?

We have gathered here links to information to help you consider how your business will operate from here.

What WorkSafe says:

•    New Zealand now has high vaccination rates and reduced risk of reinfection for those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.

•    Employer vaccination requirements need to be used carefully (based on public health advice) and are not a suitable first response for managing COVID-19 in most workplaces.

•    Employers should undertake a risk assessment to determine their level of risk and consider the extent to which other controls can manage that risk.

Find out more on the WorkSafe site here.

From Employment New Zealand:

•    If a business or workplace isn’t covered by a government vaccination mandate, an employer can determine what controls can be supported by a work health and safety risk assessment or in relation to third party access requirements. This may include requiring work be done only by vaccinated workers.

•    Employers must engage with workers and their representatives in good faith. This includes when they are developing, implementing, or reviewing an employer vaccination requirement or other COVID-19 controls.

They have a useful Q&A section tackling some of the meaty questions to help guide you, here is an example:

Can someone who lost their job due to a previous vaccination requirement get their job back?
If someone’s employment was terminated and this took effect while a government vaccination mandate or employer vaccination requirement was in place, that decision still stands. A former employee does not have a right to get their old job back, or any other role with their previous employer.

Find out more on the Employment New Zealand site here.

Note: these are official government sites. We encourage you to engage with specialist professional advisors wherever possible to help guide you.

Good Business: Are you short on Skilled Employees?

New Zealand is in desperate need of skilled employees.  If you have exhausted all means of upskilling, advertising, head-hunting and internal rearrangements of staff then you might want to consider looking for international skilled migrants to join your team.

The New Zealand borders are reopening for new work visa holders from July 2022.  The date to be confirmed.  This new work visa will be known as The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and is a new temporary work visa that will replace the Essential Skills Work Visa and Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa when it launches on 4 July 2022.  Employers who want to hire migrants on an AEWV will need to be accredited and submit a job check for relevant roles before they can hire a migrant.

If you already hire migrant workers you will have to be compliant to retain your migrant workers from 4 July 2022.

AEWV implementation dates

The key dates to keep in mind are:

  • 23 May 2022– employers can apply for accreditation;
  • 20 June 2022– accredited employers can submit a job check; and
  • 4 July 2022– migrants can apply for an AEWV, where the employer is accredited, and a job check has been completed.

Migrant workers can still apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa until 3 July 2022. Employers do not need to apply for accreditation from 23 May 2022 unless they intend to hire migrants on an AEWV soon after 4 July 2022.

For most employers, accreditation will be a simple assessment and Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) will work to process applications quickly.

Steps to hiring skilled migrants on the AEWV

1. Getting accredited

Your business will first need to gain accreditation.  This is a new type of accreditation and you will have to apply even if you have been accredited under the previous system.  There are different levels of accreditation depending on how many migrants you want to hire. You will need to meet standard requirements including showing you are a genuine, compliant business and commit to activities to settle migrants and minimise exploitation.

2. Passing the job check

Once accredited you need to apply for a job check for each job you want to hire migrant workers for.  You can only hire a migrant worker on an AEWV for a job if it has passed the job check. The job check confirms that the job pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with New Zealand employment laws and standards and you have done a labour market test if you need to.  If the job is paid at least 200% of the median wage you do not need to advertise the role.

3. Visa application

If the job passes the job check you can invite the migrant worker to apply for a visa.  INZ will check if they meet the requirements for the AEWV including that they have the skills and experience you advertised for.

The pathway to residence on this new work visa category will be introduced in the future for migrants who have held an AEWV for 2 years and are paid at least 200% of the median wage.

Median wage increase on 4 July 2022

The median wage will increase from $27.00 to $27.76 an hour on 4 July 2022, in line with when the AEWV opens to applications.

Important to note

If you already hire migrants and their visas will expire before you have completed the steps above, your migrant worker can apply for a bridging visa whilst you get you accreditation in order.  This bridging visa will be a Visitor visa only and will not allow them to work.

For more information contact Joamari van der Walt joamariv@horsleychristie.co.nz