NZ New Immigation Act come into force

There is more responsibility - and penalties - for employers as of yesterday if they are discovered employing anyone without the right to work. We outline a brief synopsis of implications for Employers and also for candidates.
The NZ new 2009 Immigration Act commenced yesterday - 29 November 2010

For Employers in basic terms it means:
The Employers obligations are broadly the same as under the Immigration Act 1987 i.e. you must not employ a non-New Zealand citizen who is not entitled to work in New Zealand. No surprise there we trust. However the ‘new’ act effectively does shift the balance of proof: holding an IR 330 form will now no longer be a “reasonable excuse” if you are found employing those not entitled to work in New Zealand. The new requirements require you to show that you took “reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence” in checking entitlement to work in New Zealand. This is another reason to ensure you have robust recruitment processes, procedures and evidence in place.

The good news is that the Department of Labour is keen to support and is providing an online system - called Visaview which will allow you to obtain information on a potential employee’s work entitlement. To access you need the website and e.g. a passport number and the last name of any foreign national applicants. We have not yet used the system but the idea is it will check against the Department’s database providing a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer + any work conditions that may apply. Please note it also affects advertising and the more initial steps in the recruitment process and advice is that adverts should confirm that ID checks will take place and requiring consent etc.

Penalties for getting it wrong could cost you up to $50,000

For Candidates in basic terms it means:
Employers will be seeking permission early on to conduct eligibility checks. If you are a Kiwi you will need to prove you have the right to work and provide copy of passport or birth certificate and photo ID. You may also find employers taking a facial photo during interview so this matches up with your documentation and that they can hold a copy on file to show they have conducted the checks. Job Ads, application forms and so forth are more likely to include you to confirm you agree - or more likely dont disagree - for checks to be conducted.

In our view this change is in line with other countries, penalties for employers who dont conduct thorough checks and can evidence this has been done are getting more severe round the world - we have particular experience of the UK market and this has been the norm there for some time and candidates should not take this personally even though it may be a change from previous experience where more was taken on trust.

Please note we are not lawyers and whilst we are versed in employment practices and keep abreast of legislation this blog piece is not meant to constitute legal advice - please do see the Govt website for full information. Note also this websites Terms and Conditions of Use.