Caution and Planning – Business Approach for Q204 March 2021
At Aims Global, we have spent the last six months with an increased focus on engaging with employers and simplifying the policies introduced by Immigration New Zealand to make them relevant for businesses. This has shown me that NZ businesses are resilient but cautious. This is reflected in the positive hiring trends and visa support that many businesses are willing to offer to their migrant workforce.
However, change always brings uncertainty and more questions. In addition, the frequent transition in Covid19 alert levels across NZ has impacted industries in different ways. Here are five things that have come up repeatedly in my meetings which all business owners and their HR, regardless of industry and location, should be mindful of in the coming months:
1.INZ Employer Accreditation
This is the big one; the big change is set to impact 55,000 businesses across NZ. We are just a few months away from this new policy being implemented so employers need to take a cautionary approach and get ready. Our advice is to prepare early and be at the front of the queue when applications open mid-2021. I also come across many employers who are unsure of what the changes mean or whether the changes will affect them. If you aren’t familiar with this process yet, have a read of our article here.
2.Closed borders and its impact on business & recruitment
NZ borders have been closed for a year now and this has significantly restricted the talent pool available in country. It is most evident in highly skilled sectors such as IT, where counter offers are in abundance and the bubble of inflated salaries is close to popping. With borders looking to remain closed for the next few months, this problem isn’t going away. Whilst INZ has created a ‘border exception’ category for those businesses most affected, bringing people in as “Critical workers” sounds easier than it actually is. The threshold to qualify for this category is very high (find some insights into the ‘Other Critical Worker’ category here). Since the border closed, less than 1500 Critical worker requests have been approved. Further, INZ is in the process of closing 3 overseas offices. Inevitably this will contribute to the growing shortage of skills, implying that retaining talent is of utmost importance for businesses today.
3.Temporary closure of Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) for Residence
The SMC has been closed for almost a year. This means that applications for residency through the SMC pathway since March 2020 have not been picked up for processing. In fact, INZ is still processing applications from 2019. This leaves migrant workers in a position where they have to obtain another visa through the employer since there is no certainty on when their Residence application might be processed. As a result, businesses are having to support multiple subsequent visas for their employees.
4.Budgeting for changes
There are factors you need to accommodate in your planning for Q2 and Q3 of 2021. Firstly, the financial cost and human hours of preparing the accreditation application (as this will become mandatory). Secondly, supporting migrant workers for a 3-year visa in line with the median wage – this goes up to $27 / hour in July 2021. Paying below this mark would only yield a 6-month visa. This could considerably add up the labour costs for a business and would need to be budgeted for in the planning phase.
5.Employee Panic mode
I’ve already heard several stories of migrant employees panicking because their employers don’t have concrete plans to gain accreditation or are unable to answer questions about visa support in the future. Consequently, the risk of losing these employees is high and real. It is crucial we all keep “people first” in our approach and you have clarity on how to navigate the next few months. This will also help businesses attract better talent and will go a long way in reassuring your existing visa-holder employees.
To conclude, I reiterate – it is time for caution and careful planning. If you need any help navigating all of this, don’t hesitate to get in touch! I can act as a sounding board for your plans and our team can guide you on the measures to put in place to avoid getting caught out by the upcoming immigration changes.
Providing professional immigration advice and support for over 15 years. Aims Global is an agile team of licensed immigration advisers and experts who are skilled advocates for our clients and are always at the forefront of policy changes.
Our mission is to help our clients achieve their goals through simplifying the complex immigration process. We are experts in understanding your needs so we can fulfil your purpose, whether you’re an employer, employee, student, or family.