Providing accommodation for RSE workers

From the 2019/20 season, the Government has introduced changes in some regions of New Zealand to the type of accommodation you can offer your workers.

Where the changes apply

Restrictions apply if your Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers are in:

  • Northland
  • Auckland — including upper Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Hawke’s Bay
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson and Tasman, or
  • Otago.

No other regions of New Zealand are affected by the accommodation restrictions and the restrictions apply only to accommodation you are using for the first time.

If you are not sure where your property is located, check its legal address and council boundaries.

Council maps and websites | Local Government New Zealand

Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay

Your RSE workers must not live in a residential house unless:

  • the house was included in an Agreement to Recruit (ATR) approved before 26 September 2019, or
  • you own the house, and bought it on or before 26 September 2019.

You cannot:

  • rent a residential house you have not previously used to accommodate RSE workers, or
  • buy a residential house after 26 September 2019 to accommodate RSE workers, even if you intend to significantly modify it.

Auckland (including upper Auckland), Northland, Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman and Otago

Your RSE workers must not live in a residential house unless:

  • the house was included in an Agreement to Recruit (ATR) approved before 26 September 2019, or
  • you own it.

You cannot rent a residential house you have not previously used as accommodation for RSE workers. You can still buy a residential house, but the Government expects that you will plan to offer purpose-built accommodation to your workers as soon as you can.

The type of housing you can offer

Even though you may not be able to use a residential house, you can accommodate your RSE workers in:

  • purpose-built seasonal worker accommodation
  • a converted or re-purposed property converted into seasonal worker accommodation
  • a house on a commercial orchard or vineyard
  • guest accommodation, such as:
    • a designated boarding house
    • a home-stay or billeting arrangement
    • motels or campground cabins.

The existing quality guidelines for suitable accommodation assessed by the Labour Inspectorate will continue to apply.

Worker accommodation | Worksafe

Why the accommodation requirements are changing

The number of RSE workers is increasing by 1550 for the 2019/20 season. The Government wants to ensure employers do not use housing for their RSE workers that would normally be available to local residents, while at the same time limiting disruption to existing accommodation arrangements for the time being. As part of the review of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme in 2019/20, accommodation requirements will be considered more comprehensively.

More purpose-built accommodation expected

The Government expects that employers are planning to provide purpose-built accommodation for their RSE workers as soon as possible. The number of workers on this scheme may increase in 2020/21 season, but only if there is firm evidence that employers across the viticulture and horticulture industries are:

  • reducing the use of residential housing in the regions where restrictions apply in 2019/20, and
  • increasing the amount of purpose-built accommodation so it adds to existing housing stock.

Latest developments in the RSE scheme — 4 October 2019