Date: 20 Apr 2023

Recent political commentary has suggested that tying visas to a single employer leads to exploitation - this does not reflect our experience.

There are common reasons why a migrant worker may not succeed in NZ:

  • Those who do not speak English well may struggle
  • Some of our customs and social norms are challenging
  • Unfortunately, some may face discrimination
  • Qualifications or experience that don’t relate to NZ conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with our labour laws/regulations can lead to vulnerability

The Accredited Employer Work Visa allows employers to hire skilled workers from overseas to fill roles that cannot be filled by New Zealand workers. The rules and requirements to be an Accredited Employer are extensive and prescriptive.

ELE seeks a partnership with our employees. We are driven by a core value of tipu tahi - growing together - in a partnership of trust and shared opportunity. We are a Māori owned business and deeply committed to doing business in a fair and equitable manner.

And for context, internationally we recruit primarily for the construction industry - carpenters currently make up the bulk of our migrant workforce.

We place our people with reputable construction companies throughout the country on good projects and we check on them regularly, often daily, to make sure they are doing well.

We provide pastoral care and ongoing coaching, particularly those who have recently arrived in the country. This may include assistance with finding accommodation, language, transport and involvement with community and cultural groups.

We place them in teams onsite and have family members working together. We help our migrant workers gain residency and bring their families to NZ if that is their journey.

The investment to bring skilled workers to NZ is significant. For us that translates into a vested interest in our employees wellbeing, support and connection so they are engaged and thriving in their new environment.

Tying visas to one employer helps to prevent exploitation. If an employee is free to change employers at will, they may be more vulnerable, particularly from non-accredited employers.

In times of economic turmoil or disruption, businesses may need to make tough decisions. The three year term allows us to operate effectively and give our people certainty and employment continuity.

And in reality the three year agreement has flexibility in the term. Should a difference of opinion or values between the parties be significant there is a process to transfer to another Accredited Employer.

So in summary, binding visas to one employer works well for our people.

And with that out of the way, let’s hope we see some balanced and thoughtful immigration policy positions emerging over the next few months. There are significantly more important issues in this space that need to be sorted out…

Tying visas to a single employer