In July 2015, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) published an upcoming scheme for labour hire employers, which is now in force.

Does a labour-hire company or recruitment agency have to be accredited?

Accreditation is only mandatory for labour-hire companies, operating within Canterbury, and in the construction sector.

The scheme is optional for labour-hire companies operating in other sectors, in other areas of New Zealand.

What happens if a labour-hire company based in Christchurch, operating in the construction sector, is not yet accredited?

We hope this is not the case, but if it is, INZ will not process any further work visa applications for employees working in the construction sector.

The company will receive a letter from INZ, giving it 30 days to remedy the non-compliance. If INZ are not satisfied with the progress to become accredited within that period, they can move to deport any current work visa holders, and will decline any future accreditation applications.

This could be a very serious consequence, as the company would then be unable to employ any migrant employees in the future.

How many companies are accredited so far?

As of 15 January, there is a total of six (yes, only six!) labour-hire companies across New Zealand that have been approved as labour-hire employers.

These companies have the benefit of being able to boast to potential employees they are one of only a handful of employers INZ recognise as accredited.

Remind me, what are the benefits of accreditation?

Migrant employees or proposed migrant employees of companies that hold accreditation are able to obtain three year visas. This includes lower-skilled roles, such as Labourers.

Although visas of this duration are currently available for migrant employees of non-labour hire employers in Canterbury, this will cease on 1 January 2017. Therefore, there is a benefit post-2016.

As well as this, labour-hire accredited employers are likely to face less scrutiny when their migrant employees apply for visas, as they have already been thoroughly reviewed when making the accreditation application. Therefore, we believe their employees' applications are likely to be processed faster.

If you work with recruitment agencies, who provide you with temping staff, then it may be better to work with those who are accredited.

Does advertising still need to be done?

Yes, this requirement has not changed. This means advertising nationally, such as on TradeMe or Seek. Also, for employers based in Canterbury, the role is likely to need to be listed with the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub, and for employers based outside of Canterbury, with Work and Income New Zealand.

I want to get my recruitment agency accredited – can you help?

Yes, we would love to.

Our Immigration Team specialises in assisting employers and their employees in all aspects of immigration, which includes accreditation. We can check your workplace practices and policies, including helping with your systems to check employees are working lawfully.

I am a Canterbury employer who works with recruitment companies, shall I ask them if they are accredited?

Yes, you should, especially if you are working in the construction sector or regularly deal with migrant temps. This is a good way of ensuring that the agency you are dealing with is following best practice and that it will be able to continue to provide you with the staff you need in the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.