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Migrant Worker Rights

07 May 2018

Employing Migrant Workers

It seems not a week passes without another story of a company getting fined for breaching minimum employment standards when employing migrant workers.

The latest are an Auckland construction company fined $19,000 for unlawful Employment Agreements and denying casual workers minimum rights, and a Napier petrol station $120,000 fine plus $132,000 for unpaid wages and holiday pay.

The Government's Labour Inspectorate regional manager David Milne says "It is the nature of the relationship that is important, not the label you give your employee in the employment agreement"

That important point meaning just because you have hired someone with a 'Casual Employment Agreement' doesn't necessarily mean they are in fact a casual employee. The nature of the work may in deed be deemed a permanent role.

Migrant workers have the same rights as any resident worker by law, and in some cases there are more minimum standards also. For example if they are here on a skilled migrant basis there will be a minimum salary threshold of $50,000 pa (subsequent to the raise in Jan 2018).

Having an eligible visa to work is also important. It is illegal to employ someone who is not entitled to work, and often work visas can be tied to a specific employer too.

Just as the Labour-led Government promised the increase in labour inspectors from 60 to 110 it is adequately demonstrated in the Employment Relations Authority with a constant stream of cases such as these on a regular basis.

At the very minimum get up-to-date legally compliant Employment Agreements with the best protection for your business, ensuring you use the correct type for the role; casual, fixed term or permanent.

These are all free to members in the Employers Toolbox, or can be purchased from $50 here.


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