Sector agreements and hiring migrants on an AEWV

Find out about the government's sector agreements and wage exemptions that allow specific occupations and employment sectors to pay migrant workers less than NZD$29.66 an hour.

Sector agreements and wage exemptions

Sector agreements

These sectors have agreement that allow them to pay less than NZD$29.66 an hour (the February 2023 median wage rate) for some roles for a limited time. They must still meet a lower wage rate requirement.

Sectors covered by sector agreements:

  • care workforce
  • seafood processing (onshore)
  • seafood (sea-based)
  • construction and infrastructure
  • meat processing
  • seasonal snow and adventure tourism
  • transport.

The seafood (sea-based) sector agreement allows for migrant workers to be paid under the February 2023 median wage. These workers are not hired on the AEWV, instead, they are employed on the Fishing Crew Work Visa.

Fishing Crew Work Visa

Wage exemptions

The tourism and hospitality sector has a temporary exemption that allows them to pay less than the February 2023 median wage rate for some roles for a limited time.

Recruitment limits

Some sectors also have limits set on how many migrants they can recruit. In the sector agreements they are called 'capped' sectors. Sectors that do not have limits on recruiting migrants are called 'uncapped' sectors.

Uncapped sectors

The uncapped sectors are:

  • care workforce
  • tourism and hospitality
  • construction and infrastructure
  • seasonal snow and adventure tourism
  • transport.

Capped sectors

Capped sectors have a limit on how many workers they can hire and pay below the February 2023 median wage each year. The capped sectors are:

  • meat processing: 320 workers each year
  • seafood processing (onshore): 600 workers each year.

The allocation of these caps is carried out by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Seafood New Zealand. MIA and Seafood New Zealand contact employers through industry channels with further information on getting a share of the cap.

You can contact MIA or Seafood New Zealand for more information about the cap.


Seafood New Zealand:

Setting sector pay rates

The government sets the pay rate after consulting with relevant government agencies and sector representatives. The pay rates are different for each sector due to varying labour market conditions.

Maximum continuous stay for AEWV roles

Maximum continuous stay is the total time a person can be on an AEWV before they must spend time outside New Zealand to be eligible for another AEWV. There is a maximum continuous stay for everyone who has an AEWV.

How long you can stay on an AEWV

You can check the visa length, maximum continuous stay and the time required outside New Zealand for AEWV roles exempt from paying the February 2023 median wage.

AEWV roles exempt from paying the February 2023 median wage

Sector agreements and pathways to residence

Some roles covered by a sector agreement provide a pathway to residence. This means the migrant worker can apply for residence once they have completed work experience in New Zealand.

Unless there is an exception in place, visa holders wanting to claim work experience as part of their residence application must be paid at least:

  • the median wage in place when their visa application was accepted, and
  • the current median wage when they apply for their residence visa.

Work experience exceptions and median wage exceptions

Migrants covered by the Care Workforce agreement must be paid at least NZD$28.25 an hour during their work experience.

Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa

Changes were made to the Transport Work to Residence on 7 April 2024. From 7 April 2024, migrants applying for an AEWV as a bus driver will no longer be able to use this role to gain work experience towards a Transport Work to Residence Visa.

Bus drivers who had their AEWV application accepted on or before 6 April 2024 can continue to gain work experience and apply for a Transport Work to Residence Visa once they meet the visa requirements. They must be paid at least NZD$28 an hour during their work experience.

Transport Work to Residence Visa work requirements and roles

Changes to Work to Residence and occupations on the Green List

Sector agreement improvements

Sectors are expected to work towards a more productive and resilient workforce, by reducing their need for migrant workers. The expectations are different between the sector agreements, but in general sectors are required to:

  • increase investment in worker training, upskilling, and career development
  • improve domestic worker attraction and retention numbers
  • increase investment, where appropriate, in new business models and labour-saving technology.

In addition to these expectations, sectors also must put in place Workforce Transition Plans and Industry Transformation Plans.

Sector agreements and staff shortages

The sector agreements are not intended to resolve labour shortages. The sector agreement arrangements help give these sectors, which have traditionally relied on lower-paid migrants, time to make changes to their business and transition their workforce to rely less on migrant workers.

Government monitoring of sector improvements

Government will monitor progress on the expectations and this monitoring will be used in the 2024 reviews and development of Pacific programmes.

The details of this monitoring are still being worked through with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) and the sector agencies.