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Migrant Exploitation Protection Work Visas - What Could They Mean for You?

30 July 2021

Migrant workers are an integral part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s workforce: They play a crucial role in contributing to New Zealand’s economy and are the most apt solution for New Zealand’s ongoing labour shortages. All types of companies – Small & Medium Enterprises to large corporates – hire these workers. However, some types of businesses and sectors are more exposed to migrant exploitation – be this intentional or unintentional. 

Which Sectors Could Be Most Impacted?

Sectors such as hospitality, agriculture and horticulture, construction, telecommunications (specifically regarding Chorus subtractors) are some of the key industries mentioned by MBIE in ‘sector specific forms of exploitation’. These are largely driven by vulnerabilities associated with employer-assisted work visas where the worker is tied to a particular employer for completing the work they got the visa for and nothing else. The ability of the worker to walk out of the job is constrained due to restrictive visa conditions.

SME businesses that have inadequate or non-existent HR functionalities are also more exposed to their employees being able to claim exploitation on various grounds such as breaks, unpaid overtime or unpaid trials, and in some cases charging premiums for work/training or salary recycling.

  • The Migrant Exploitation Protection Work visa is the government’s way to tackle this issue and protect temporary migrant workers from exploitative employment.
  • Under this, affected workers who have experienced such situations are able to report this to MBIE.
  • This report of exploitation must be assessed by Employment New Zealand prior to submitting this visa. This visa is granted for up to 6 months and has open working conditions – the aim is to be able to leave such employment situations quickly.

What Does This Work Visa Mean for NZ Employers?

This Migrant Exploitation Protection Work visa should be taken as a cautionary tale for employers. They should take the announcement of this category as an opportunity to reflect on their business practices and close off any loops that could expose them to exploitation claims.

With this new work visa, employment law and immigration law in New Zealand work hand in hand towards one end goal – minimise exploitation of migrants in our country. As a result, Aims Global has now partnered with New Zealand employment experts to provide their clients – employer or employee - with blended advice on employment and immigration needs. 

More info on this coming soon but feel free to contact us if you want a headstart on our HR services.

- Evan Wang (Provisional Licensed Immigration Adviser #202100122) & Zinnia Manchanda (Operations Manager & Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser #201600267)

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