Recognised Seasonal Employer
Inter-Agency Understanding 2009: Vanuatu
Inter-Agency Understanding between the Department of labour of New Zealand and the Department of Labour of the Republic of Vanuatu in Support of the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employers Policy
The Department of Labour of Vanuatu (“Department–VAN”) shall be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the facilitative arrangements outlined in this section. To be read in conjunction with the Inter-Agency Understanding 2009: Vanuatu.
The Seasonal Employment Act No.23 of 2007 (“the Act”) will regulate recruitment activities in Vanuatu in connection with RSE Policy. The Department-VAN will require interested parties who wish to engage in recruitment activity in Vanuatu to hold a license in accordance with the provisions of the Act The Department-VAN will maintain an up to date database of Licensees licensed for this purpose.
The Commissioner of Labour will be guided by the Act in the issuance of licenses. Factors that will be taken into account when considering applications for licenses include the applicant’s character, financial position, the interests of the public and that the applicant is fit to carry on the business of a seasonal employment Licensee.
The Commissioner of Labour may cancel a license if a Licensee is found to be guilty of misconduct or has been shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Labour to be of such a character that is in the interest of the public that the license be cancelled.
RSEs wishing to recruit from Vanuatu should make contact with the Department-VAN who will inform them of the names of all current Licensees and the procedure for recruiting in Vanuatu.
In the event that RSEs wish to recruit workers directly, the RSE will obtain a permit from the Commissioner of Labour for a period in accordance with Act. The Commissioner of Labour will ensure that the procedure and fees (if any) will be facilitative for RSEs and not discourage RSEs from recruiting directly. The Department-VAN will assist any RSEs who wish to recruit directly, that is, without the assistance of a Licensee.
The Department will inform the Department-VAN, in a timely manner, of ATRs involving Ni-Vanuatu workers.
The Department-VAN will provide the Department with a copy of the Register of Licensees and RSEs who have been issued permits to enable them to recruit directly.
Licensees in Vanuatu will work on behalf of RSEs to identify, orient and arrange to send to New Zealand suitable workers. Any Licensees engaged by RSEs will be paid by RSEs and are prohibited from seeking compensation from workers in exchange for securing an employment agreement under the RSE Policy. In order to guard against exploitation of Ni-Vanuatu, only such costs as medical certificates and police clearances (where relevant) should be charged to the worker. The worker must be made aware that they can complete the RSE visa application process without the assistance of Licensees.
The decision to offer employment and to enter into an employment agreement remains with the RSE. A written employment agreement negotiated by the RSE and worker will specify the terms and conditions of employment and must be in accordance with the RSE Policy and New Zealand’s employment legislation, including the opportunity for workers to seek independent advice. The RSE and worker must sign the employment agreement before the worker can submit an application to work under the RSE Policy.
RSEs may wish to re-employ seasonal workers from Vanuatu who have worked satisfactorily for them in previous seasons. This may be facilitated by Licensees or through a direct offer of employment to the worker by an RSE that has been issued a permit to undertake seasonal employment services.
2. Work Visa Processing
An application for a work visa or permit to work for an RSE must be made in accordance with the RSE Policy. Application requirements are set out in the RSE Policy and the “Application to Work in New Zealand for a Recognised Seasonal Employer” form. The application fee will be published in the INZ Guide to Fees (NZIS 1028) and on INZ’s website www.immigration.govt.nz/fees.
Work visa applications to work for an RSE must be submitted to the New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila but will be processed and decided at the INZ Office in Suva, Fiji. These applications are expected to be decided within ten to fifteen working days from submission to the High Commission.
The Department will provide to the Department-VAN information sheets outlining the requirements for applications to work in New Zealand for an RSE. The Department-VAN will cooperate with the Department on translation of information sheets.
Application forms and RSE Policy information sheets will be made available through the New Zealand High Commission and through INZ’s website www.immigration.govt.nz.
The RSE Policy is available through the INZ website. The Department will inform the Department-VAN of any updates and changes to the RSE Work Policy.
The New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila will work with the Department-VAN to ensure that notification of the receipt of all RSE applications for work visas or permits is communicated to the Ministry for the purposes of record keeping.
3. Pre-Departure Orientation
The Department-VAN will actively participate in the presentation and delivery of pre-departure orientation briefings to impress upon Ni-Vanuatu workers the importance of compliance and the public consequences of any overstaying.
The Department will make available to the Department-VAN information kits and seminar tools that may be drawn on for purposes of delivering pre-departure orientation and will liaise with the Department-VAN regarding the translation of relevant parts, where appropriate.
The delivery of pre-departure orientation will primarily be the responsibility of Licensees in Vanuatu. Licensees should provide comprehensive briefings to all groups of workers before their departure to New Zealand covering such matters as: differences types of pay rates (hourly versus contract rate), deductions from pay including signing consent forms for deduction, climate, clothing and footwear requirements, taxation, insurance (Vanuatu supports compulsory Health Insurance for all RSE workers going to NZ), health and wellbeing, accident compensation, budget advice, travel arrangements, and emergency contact details such as the Department-VAN representative and the RSE Principal Advisor – Pacific Region.
Licensees must stress to workers the importance of adhering to the rules and the conditions of visa and permits granted, displaying a good work ethic, supporting the group leaders and protecting Vanuatu’s reputation as a source of seasonal labour. The Department-VAN and, where appropriate, the New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila will contribute to group briefings to reinforce this.
In cases where RSEs recruit Ni-Vanuatu workers directly from Vanuatu, the Department-VAN will assist in providing pre-departure orientation materials and group briefings before departure.
4. Pastoral Care
Workers will enjoy the full protection of New Zealand employment and workplace legislation, in particular legislation concerning safe conditions of work and the payment of market rates will apply. Workers are eligible to join unions in accordance with those laws.
RSEs will address pastoral care as set out in the RSE Policy, this includes:
- transportation to and from the port of arrival and departure
- an induction programme
- suitable accommodation
- transportation to and from the worksite(s)
- access to personal banking
- provision of personal protective equipment
- provision of onsite facilities (toilets, hand washing, first aid, shelter, fresh drinking water)
- necessary language translation e.g. for health and safety purposes, and
- the opportunity for recreation and religious observance.
Workers will be responsible for reasonable costs of accommodation, food and clothing. If RSEs pay the full travel cost they are likely to make arrangements to recover up to half of the travel cost from worker’s wages. Pay deductions (apart from tax and ACC levy) will only be permissible if they are allowed by the RSE Policy.
Workers may submit tax returns following the completion of the tax year to apply for a tax rebate.
Workers will be covered by Accident Compensation legislation in New Zealand but will not be eligible for free medical services. The Department does not require RSEs to provide medical insurance for workers. Where workers require medical services (other than ACC) they are liable to pay the costs incurred. Arrangements should be encouraged to obtain medical insurance for workers while in New Zealand.
Workers may draw any concerns arising from the conduct of their RSE to their team leader (where one exists), employer, union representative, the Department-VAN representative, the Vanuatu Association President and/or the Department staff. The RSE Principal Advisor-Pacific Region may investigate any issues that cannot be resolved by other parties. The Department-VAN should inform the Department in a timely manner, of any complaints received.
The New Zealand Government has zero tolerance for overstaying under the RSE Policy. To ensure the sustainability of the RSE Policy workers need to comply with the work visas or permits granted. RSEs are responsible for the payment of costs associated with the repatriation of any of their workers who require repatriation as a result of a breach of terms and conditions of their permit. RSEs are unlikely to seek to recruit further workers from Vanuatu if they experience negative consequences for non compliance relating to Vanuatu workers.
The Department-VAN representative will cooperate with the New Zealand authorities in matters relating to the return of Vanuatu workers. The Act assigns the Commissioner of Labour with the task of liaising with workers and the Department on pastoral care matters.
The Department will monitor compliance with employment and workplace legislation, the RSE Policy and general immigration requirements.
Complaints to, or information held by the Department that indicate non compliance with the RSE Policy will be investigated by the Department, as necessary. The Department will operate a programme of random visits to RSEs to monitor compliance with the RSE Policy.
6. RSE Policy updates
The Department will advise the Ministry of any changes or amendments to the RSE Policy at the earliest opportunity before the changes or amendments are made public. RSE Policy will remain available and updated on the Immigration NZ website www.immigration.govt.nz.