Why migrant workers having loans is an employer’s concern.
New Zealand employers are completely accustomed to their employees having loans – especially in lower paying jobs. Loans for cars, for homes, student loans, loans for trips of a lifetime – interest-free or otherwise, we do not hesitate to throw it on the plastic.
However, when your employee is a Filipino migrant, this should sound alarm bells. LOUD ONES.
It is prohibited by NZ Immigration to force, expect or even encourage your Filipino migrant worker to pay for any part of his or her migration to New Zealand to work on a migrant working visa. Directly from the NZ Immigration Guide for Employers:
“Recruitment agencies in New Zealand and the Philippines charge a service fee to an employer which covers recruitment and placement fees. Under Philippines law you will be required to cover recruitment, relocation and immigration costs for employees from the Philippines.”
The employer is expected to pay. End of story.
What happens if you do not follow best practice – and you make your new employee pay for all of this?
Well, you are hit with an enormous fine – that’s what happens. You are also viewed as disregarding your employer obligations. You are effectively breaking NZ law – and as the Filipinos employed in New Zealand are governed by NZ Employment Law, they have a valid grievance against you – which they are unlikely to pursue themselves, but Immigration may well pursue it on their behalf.
There are now precedents in New Zealand of construction sites being under siege by Immigration Inspectors. It is not difficult to find out where the larger projects are – the tendering process is publicly listed information, as are the visa sponsors – be aware that you are in an industry under scrutiny.
What if you sought advice from a recruiter who told you it was fine (or worse – that you are unlikely to get caught). Who is responsible in the instance of the illegal practice being scrutinised by Immigration?
The employer is always responsible. At the end of the day responsible advisers such as accountants and lawyers are not held responsible for the actions of their clients – even when they have provided the advice, so recruiters are not responsible for the actions of employers. It’s up to you to do your homework and understand the legalities. The only instance of the Construction company not being responsible is when the migrant is the employee of a temp agency – in this instance, you will obviously pay a higher overall cost in the long run, as the margin will incorporate all of the above-mentioned cost as well as the temp agency’s margin ongoing.
For a full copy of the Immigration NZ Employer Guide, please contact me. The rules are fairly clear. There is no reason for lack of clarity on the requirements or responsibilities for employers!