Employing Foreign Seasonal Labour

Freddy looks to employ foreign seasonal labour.

Farmer Freddy has invited his daughter Pebbles over to his recently purchased vineyard. It is fast approaching the harvest, and already there are bountiful bunches of grapes hanging from the vines. “Thanks for the tour, Dad” says Pebbles.

“A pleasure,” replies Freddy. “And soon you’ll be able to sample my wine from the first harvest.” “I can’t wait,” responds Pebbles. “ But the harvest season is fast approaching. Who is going to help you pick all the grapes?”

“Ah…funny you should ask Pebbles,” he replies with a smile. “I have that all under control. Just today, some tourists stopped by. They really enjoyed visiting Taranaki, and want to stay a bit longer. But they are in need of work because they’ve run out of money, and are willing to do almost anything…”

“Yes, but are they allowed to work, Dad?” interrupts Pebbles.

“Why wouldn’t they be?” responds Freddy, surprised.

“Well Dad,” explains Pebbles, “foreign tourists need to hold a visa allowing them to work. What’s more, employers can only recruit foreign workers if there are no New Zealand citizens or permanent resident workers that are available and able to do the work.”

“Pebbles,” replies Freddy, groaning, “do you know how hard it is to find workers willing to do this kind of work? What am I going to do?”

“Don’t worry Dad,” Pebbles reassures him, “you can apply to Immigration New Zealand to become a Recognised Seasonal Employer, or ‘RSE’ for short. As a RSE, you can then recruit workers from certain countries on a seasonal basis.”

“How do I become a RSE, then?” asks Freddy.

“Well there are two main steps,” responds Pebbles. “First, you need to apply to Immigration New Zealand for RSE status. You will need to show that your business is financially secure, have good workplace and employment practices, and comply with New Zealand’s employment and immigration laws. Next, you have to get an Agreement to Recruit (or ‘ATR’). The application form asks for information including the region’s seasonal demand for labour, number of workers needed, length of time the position is for, and a copy of the employment agreement you will be offering the workers. Employers are required to take all reasonable steps to recruit and train New Zealand citizen or resident workers. Then, once you have your ATR, you can make your job offers. Your overseas workers will then need to apply for a work visa and show evidence of the job offer to get the visa.”

“Crikey,” grumbles Freddy. “That sounds like it could take some.”

“Yes it can, Dad,” says Pebbles. “But don’t start whining – it’s important that you get it right. There are serious consequences for employers who employ illegal workers. Look, we can sit down now and make a start on your application. Before you know it, we’ll be enjoying your first vintage.”

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Philip McCarthy