Change for partners of New Zealand work visa holders.
Partners of New Zealand work visa holders will soon only be able to work for an Accredited Employer and, unless specifically exempt, must be paid at the median pay rate. This change affects work visa applications lodged from 1st June 2023 when the category is based on their partner holding an Essential Skills or Accredited Employer work visa.
Before discussing what this rule change means, let’s first break down what “median wage” means compared to other wage terms.
Presently $29.66 and renewed annually, it is the middle point of the current pay rate range across all fields in New Zealand.
The average rate is calculated by adding the salaries for a select group of employees and dividing that sum by the number of employees in that group. It is at the middle of the pay rate, the market rate determined by supply and demand.
Minimum wage rates are set by the government and are reviewed annually. The legislated minimum wage in New Zealand is $22.70 per hour for adults aged 16 and over. This amount came into effect as of 1st April 2023.
It is worth noting that there are different minimum wage amounts for 16-19-year-olds “starting out” in the workforce and for apprentices doing approved industry training programmes. These do not apply to the general population.
Immigration New Zealand Ahead of the Game
For decades Immigration New Zealand (INZ), ahead of many other immigration services, recognised the various forms of partnership relationships, including same-sex and de facto relationships. This is an acceptance and recognition of diversity within marriage-like unions.
INZ has previously accepted the importance of the relationship between work visa holders and their partners, and of the contribution the temporary workforce makes to the economy and fostering a more diverse society, regardless of visa category.
Employers consider this category’s availability in the workforce as an added bonus to those they actively recruit offshore through the Accredited Employer category.
Until now, partners of work visa holders have been able to gain work visas and work for any employer at the going pay rate. Like their Essential Skills and Accredited Employer partners, they bring unique skills and experiences to the table. In particular, this has been invaluable to the healthcare industry and for part-time and casual roles providing additional flexibility for employers and filling surplus vacancies.
The need to be an Accredited Employer to employ work visa holders was introduced in July 2022. Accreditation ensures businesses wishing to hire work visa holders are viable (read bonafide), financially sound, tax-paying operations not in the commercial sex industry, with good employment practices. INZ have signalled they will monitor and enforce the Employer Accreditation obligations, thus providing a safety net for those vulnerable to migrant exploitation.
Implications Of The Wage Rate Rule Change
The wage rate rule change isn’t inclusive or good for our reputation; it’s reactive and reduces global competitiveness. The limitation of work opportunities for partners may influence whether the principal work visa holder chooses to come to New Zealand over other countries such as Australia, Canada, or the USA.
Limiting employment to an Accredited Employer is understandable, but insisting pay is at the median wage doesn’t support our society’s family-friendly stance, further reduces the active labour force and, ultimately, may make New Zealand a less desirable place for all.
Do you need advice about this rule change and how it affects you? Contact Mary