Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough Kiwi workers available. Our sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18 percent of employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).
DairyNZ uses part of your levy to ensure farmers can access the people they need, whether New Zealanders or migrants. Last year, we asked dairy farmers for their views on the Government’s proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas. These are the most commonly held visas used in relation to migrant workers in the sector.
We included farmers’ feedback in our March 2019 submission on the Government’s essential work skills visa consultation, and the immigration policy changes were announced in September 2019. These changes, to be rolled out between now and 2021, show that dairy farmers’ voices (and other submitters’ similar feedback) were heard.
What are the changes?
In June 2020
Rather than categorising positions by occupation, jobs will now be classified as ‘low-paid’ or ‘high-paid’ in relation to New Zealand’s median wage (currently $25.50 per hour). The classification of jobs into ‘low-paid’ and ‘high-paid’ will more accurately reflect various roles on dairy farms. DairyNZ supports this move.
Other significant changes from 2021 are listed below.
- A new three-step, employer-led visa application process (employer check, job check and worker check).
- A strengthened labour market test across New Zealand for ‘low-paid’ jobs.
- In Waikato, Canterbury, Otago and Southland (outside of the major cities), ‘low-paid’ migrant employees will be eligible for a visa of up to three years (followed by a 12-month stand-down period). Employers in those regions who offer a job paid at or above the median wage won’t have to do a labour market test.
- ‘High-paid’ migrant employees will be eligible for a visa of up to three years, and can re-apply for another after that with no stand-down period.
- All employers hiring migrant workers will need to be accredited, although it’s recognised that small employers have different resource capabilities.
- Migrant workers can bring their families.
- Discussion with Immigration NZ around the possible introduction of sector agreements.
For DairyNZ’s tips and advice on employing migrants in the dairy sector, see dairynz.co.nz/employer
For regular updates on policy changes to temporary work visas see immigration.govt.nz
- DairyNZ’s levy helps us advocate for farmers’ Kiwi and migrant workforce needs.
- Dairy farmers’ views are reflected in the upcoming changes to immigration policy.
- These changes will help ensure dairy farmers’ and migrants’ workforce needs are looked after.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy April 2020