Winners, losers for tourism, hospo in new immigration rules

Middle management kitchen roles could become harder to fill. Credit: Winedirector

Darryl Wilson of Wilsons Abel Tasman tells Radio NZ how hard it is to fill certain roles


One of the toughest jobs to fill in New Zealand’s hospitality industry may become even more difficult to supply under proposed new immigration rules.

Chef de partie vacancies may become tougher to fill under the new laws because of new wage thresholds that could see many foreign workers in the role limited to stay only three years, said Hospitality New Zealand.

Two wage thresholds are being introduced that will restrict the ability of workers to stay long term with the lower threshold set at around $49,000.

“Currently, if we look at the average wage of a chef de partie here, they’re below the $49,000 threshold,” said Dylan Firth, advocacy and policy manager at Hospitality New Zealand.

Hospitality NZ’s 2016 remuneration survey showed the average salary for a chef de partie was $41,399, significantly lower than the $49,000 threshold.

“That’s a bit of a shame because it’s those middle management kitchen roles are the ones that are in short supply here so that’s going to be one of the negative impacts that we could possibly see,” said Firth.

However, there was also some good news for the tourism sector in the new rules, he added.

The ability for foreign workers earning above the higher threshold of about $73,000 to stay in NZ longer could allow some specialist skilled workers in the sector to remain.

In his announcement yesterday of the new rules, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said: “[There] will be some workers who are now likely to be eligible for residence for the first time such as outdoor adventure instructors, heavy machinery operators and experienced workers in the construction and oil and gas industry.”

The lower threshold had been set at the median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The higher threshold would be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid, said Woodhouse.

The changes were designed to better manage immigration and improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration, said Woodhouse.

“It’s important that our immigration settings are attracting the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to our growing economy.”

The changes included:

  • The introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants
  • The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders, after which a minimum stand-down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled temporary work visa.
  • Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels.
  • Exploring which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensuring that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand.

Public consultation on the changes close on 21 May, with implementation planned for later this year.

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