Immigration Minister, Michael Wood has today announced measures targeted to support the hospitality and tourism sectors.
The Minister advised that the qualification requirement for chefs to be hired through an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) would be removed from 18 October.
He said more support would also be provided to the wider tourism and hospitality sector through the extension of an exemption to the median wage threshold.
“As the world recovers from COVID-19, labour shortages continue to be a persistent ongoing global symptom,” Mr Wood said.
“We are listening closely to the concerns of the hospitality and tourism sectors, and working with them to take practical steps to support them with these challenges where we can, as businesses work towards more productive and resilient ways of operating.”
The Minister said employers hiring chefs would now only be required to meet the median wage and market rate requirement, enabling employers to recruit from a larger pool of migrant chefs.
“We remain focused on reducing the immigration risks of these roles, and officials will be working closely with the industry to develop a system over the next 12-18 months for identifying and assessing skilled chefs who do not hold formal qualifications”, he said.
“Many tourism and hospitality businesses will be able to continue hiring migrants on a lower wage threshold with the Government’s temporary median wage exception extended for another year.
“We recognise these sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic and are still recovering from the impacts of ongoing disruption to global travel.”
Cabinet will extend the transition towards the full median wage for an additional year from 2023 to 2024, the Minister confirmed.
“This will help these sectors manage the short-term impacts they are facing, and ensure a clear path to continue taking the important steps towards paying the median wage in the medium-term,” he said.
“In April 2023, employers will be able to pay migrant workers in these roles on an AEWV 95 percent of the median wage or $28.18ph. This will then increase to 100 percent of the median wage in April 2024.
“This move follows other practical changes we have made recently to support key sectors with labour supply, including doubling the number of capped Working Holiday Visa places, and increasing RSE numbers alongside improving conditions.
“In line with existing policy I also confirm today that the new median wage of $29.66 per hour will be adopted into the immigration system on 27 February 2023. All wage thresholds indexed to the median wage, such as sector agreements, will also be updated.”
Minister Wood said the Government was focused on moving New Zealand to a higher wage economy, increasing the skill level of migrant workers, and encouraging employers to offer competitive wages and improve career pathways for New Zealanders.
“This policy is beginning to work, with clear evidence of better pay and conditions in a range of sectors, which will create a more sustainable labour market for everyone,” he said.
“Updating the median wage thresholds regularly is necessary to ensure the Government is delivering on its immigration rebalance goals and that existing policy settings are maintained in line with market changes.”
The current wage threshold will be in place until the new median wage is incorporated in February 2023.