RSE COVID-19 information

How COVID-19 affects you as a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) of migrants in New Zealand.

Epidemic management

An epidemic management notice relating to immigration took effect from 2 April 2020. It was changed on 24 June 2020, but the visa extensions that were made on 2 April 2020 will remain in place. No further visa extensions will be made under this notice from 9 July 2020.

Epidemic Management Notice

Immigration New Zealand has contacted all RSEs whose workers hold visas that expired on or before 1 April. Workers without a renewed visa are unlawfully in the country and must leave or apply for a visa.

Apply for a visa | Immigration NZ

Temporary visas expiring from 2 April to 9 July (inclusive) will have been extended until 25 September 2020. The change to the epidemic management notice does not affect that extension. Conditions on extended visas have been retained. Holders of a visa that expires after 9 July 2020 will be required to return home as usual.

Verify visa date and other details | Visa Verification Service

New Zealand travel

With limited exceptions temporary visa holders, including work visa holders, can no longer enter New Zealand. All travellers to New Zealand will be strictly managed and undergo 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility:

COVID-19 | key updates

Travelling and moving around | COVID19.GOVT.NZ

Self-isolation guidance | Ministry of Health

RSE employee movements

Due to COVID-19 Immigration NZ has established a process for RSE workers to move to other employers or regions if their existing employment is coming to an end.

RSE workers can choose whether to accept the offer of further employment.

The new employer must provide the RSE worker with all the details of the new work (pay, cost of living and transport, any other deductions), ensure the move is safe, as well as submit an application to Immigration New Zealand and pay any associated fees.

If the employee turns down the offer they will be expected to return home as soon as borders open.

Employer and worker obligations

Businesses deemed essential under Alert Level 4 can continue to operate under other alert levels. Businesses must ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place. RSEs are responsible for supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees.

Employers and employees need to work together to protect New Zealand and keep each other safe. Employment laws still apply.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) recommends the following people should not work at this time:

  • anyone feeling unwell
  • anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 - they must not work until cleared by a health professional for release from self-isolation
  • anyone who has come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 – they must isolate themselves for 14 days

Advice for workplaces | Ministry of Health

If an RSE worker in New Zealand is required to isolate themselves for 14 days their employer must make appropriate accommodation and pastoral care facilities available for them.

RSE workers are legally entitled to a minimum of 30 hours pay a week averaged over their entire employment contract, whether or not they can work.

As part of the COVID-19 Economic Response Package announced on 18 March 2020, RSE workers are entitled to government funding if they fall sick, have to isolate themselves while working in New Zealand (from the start date of their contract) or if they cannot work because the employer’s business is affected by the lockdown. Employers are responsible for applying for this wage subsidy to pay their workers. RSE workers are able to access Essential Workers Leave Support if they can’t work because of MoH recommendations. This equates to NZD $585.50 per worker per week - normal tax rates apply. Only one subsidy at a time is payable.

The entitlement covers the 14 days for workers in isolation and for the entire period of sickness for any worker who gets COVID-19. RSE workers are insured for medical treatment for any presenting conditions, including COVID-19.

Costs incurred during any self-isolation period, including accommodation and living costs, are the responsibility of the worker themselves.

COVID-19 Economic Response Package |

Sending money home

Workers sending money back to their families are advised to do this online as face to face services are limited.

Travel to and from Pacific Islands

Workers may be unable to depart New Zealand due to home country border restrictions and lack of flights. We recommended they continue to work if able to.

Health risk assessments at airports

Health Officers are screening all travellers arriving in New Zealand and departing to Pacific Islands. Airlines will not allow unwell passengers to board.


All travellers to New Zealand will be strictly managed and undergo 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility.

New visa conditions: Visa holders must follow health instructions in New Zealand or you can be detained and deported.

Safe Travel | Pacific Island countries

Ministry of Health | Vanuatu

Ministry of Health | Samoa

Ministry of Health | Tonga

Ministry of Health & Medical Services | Fiji

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade | Solomon Islands