- This is not current policy -
The policy in this manual ceases to be effective from 29 November 2010.
To see the current Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual go to
WH1.5 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE)
For the purpose of this policy, a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) is a New Zealand employer whose core area of business is horticulture or viticulture and who has had an application for RSE status approved by INZ. An RSE is able to apply for an Agreement to Recruit (ATR) that will allow them to recruit workers who are not New Zealand citizens or residents under the RSE Policy.
WH1.5.1 Definition of a New Zealand employer under RSE Policy
A New Zealand employer for the purposes of RSE Policy is an employer who:
- has the power to enter into employment agreements, and
- is a natural person who is ordinarily resident in New Zealand; or
- is a company that is incorporated in New Zealand and carries on business in New Zealand; or
- is an overseas company that is registered under the Companies Act and carries on business in New Zealand; or
- is an incorporated society that is incorporated in New Zealand.
WH1.5.5 Requirements for RSE status
- RSE status may be granted where INZ is satisfied that an employer:
- is a New Zealand employer as set out at WH1.5.1; and
- is in a sound financial position; and
- has human resource policies and practices which are of a high standard, promote the welfare of workers, and include dispute resolution processes; and
- has a demonstrable commitment to recruiting New Zealanders; and
- has a demonstrable commitment to training New Zealanders; and
- has good workplace practices, including a history of compliance with all immigration and employment laws such as the Immigration Act; the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act; the Wages Protection Act; the Minimum Wage Act; the Health and Safety in Employment Act; the Employment Relations Act; and the Holidays Act; and
- will meet the requirements set out at (c) below.
- To ensure that INZ can verify an employer’s ability to meet the requirements in (a) above, applicants must consent to INZ seeking information from other services of the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Social Development, the Inland Revenue Department, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, and any relevant unions, agencies, and industry bodies. Where such consent is not given an application for RSE status may be declined.
- RSEs must:
- take all reasonable steps to recruit and train New Zealanders for available positions before seeking to recruit non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers; and
- not use a recruitment agent who seeks a commission from workers in exchange for securing an employment agreement, to recruit non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers; and
- pay for half the return airfare between New Zealand and the worker’s country of residence for each worker recruited under the RSE policy, unless the worker is a citizen of Tuvalu or Kiribati who is normally resident in Tuvalu or Kiribati (in which case the employer must pay for half the return airfare between Nadi (Fiji) and New Zealand), or WH1.15.5(a) applies; and
- comply with the requirements for employment agreements including the minimum remuneration and pay deduction requirements as set out at WH1.20; and
- make available appropriate pastoral care (including food and clothing and access to health services and suitable accommodation) to their non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers at a reasonable cost during the period of the workers’ RSE limited purpose permits; and
- promptly notify INZ if any of their non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers breach the conditions of their permits; and
- promptly notify INZ of any dispute with the holder of an RSE limited purpose permit that has resulted in the suspension or dismissal of the worker; and
- not engage the services of a contractor, who does not have good workplace practices as outlined at WH1.5.5(a)(vi) and who employs non New Zealand citizen or resident workers; and
- have direct responsibility for the daily work output and supervision of non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers recruited under RSE policy, except where (d) below applies; and
- pay to the Department of Labour any costs reasonably incurred by the Department, to a maximum of NZ$3000 per worker, in relation to the repatriation (including any maintenance and accommodation) of any non–New Zealand citizen or resident worker who requires repatriation as a result of a breach of the terms and conditions of their RSE limited purpose permit; and
- on request disclose to representatives of the Department of Labour all payments received from RSE workers (including payments for airfares, accommodation and other pastoral care).
- An RSE is not required to have direct responsibility for the daily work output and supervision of non-New Zealand citizens and resident workers recruited under RSE policy when the workers are temporarily working on the worksite or worksites of another RSE (the recipient RSE), and the recipient RSE has agreed to take on these responsibilities. The RSE who employed the workers under RSE policy (the first RSE) remains accountable for all other responsibilities under RSE policy. This arrangement may only occur where:
- the total period of work on the recipient RSE’s worksite or worksites is of one month or less;
- the worksite or worksites of the recipient RSE is within the same region as that specified in the ATR held by the first RSE; and
- the first RSE has notified INZ in advance of the workers starting work at the recipient RSE’s worksite or worksites.
Note: For the purposes of this policy, the return airfare is defined as the total cost of travel from the worker’s country of residence (or from Nadi (Fiji) for a worker who is a citizen of Tuvalu or Kiribati) to New Zealand and back, including all associated taxes and fees.
WH1.5.10 Determining applications for RSE status
- In determining whether employers may be granted RSE status, INZ will assess applications and associated documents taking into account such factors as:
- the period for which the employing organisation has been established as a going concern; and
- whether the employer has engaged with the Ministry of Social Development - Work and Income; and
- whether the employer has engaged with the relevant Industry Training Organisation; and
- whether the employer is a member of any relevant industry bodies (e.g. Horticulture New Zealand, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc., Pipfruit New Zealand, Hawkes Bay Fruitgrowers Association, New Zealand Wine, Rural & Associated Contractors Federation or a regional contractors association); and
- whether the employer is certified by any quality standard organisation (e.g. NZ GAP); and
- whether the criteria in WH1.5.5 (a) and (b) have been met by the employer; and
- whether INZ is satisfied that the requirements in WH1.5.5 (c) will be met by the employer; and
- where there has been any previous breach of the requirements of immigration policy (regardless of whether or not that resulted in RSE status being rescinded), whether any evidence has been provided to satisfy INZ that the cause and consequence of that breach has been remedied.
- INZ must be satisfied that the information and documents included in an application for RSE status are genuine and accurate, and may take any steps it determines necessary to verify such documents and the information they contain.
- Representatives of the Department of Labour (DoL) may, where it is deemed necessary, conduct a site visit to the employer's premises.
- INZ may consult with other services of the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Social Development, the Inland Revenue Department, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, and any relevant unions, agencies, and industry bodies when determining whether an employer has been compliant with relevant statutory law and policies, and has a demonstrable commitment to recruiting and training New Zealanders.
- Where any information is identified by the employer as commercially sensitive and:
- that information is provided in confidence to INZ; and
- INZ considers that disclosure of that information is necessary for the determination of an application,
INZ will seek the consent of the employer for the disclosure of that information. Where such consent is not given, an application for RSE status may be declined.
- Where INZ, in consulting with other agencies, receives information that may be prejudicial to the positive outcome of an employer's application for RSE status, that adverse information will be put to the employer for comment before a decision is made on their application.
- INZ will decline an application for RSE status where it considers granting RSE status to the employer would create unacceptable risks to the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration or employment laws or policies.
WH1.5.15 Evidential requirements
- Set out below are examples of evidence that may be provided in support of an application for recognition. The provision or non-provision of any of these examples of evidence will not be determinative.
- Evidence that an employer is in a sound financial position includes but is not limited to:
- a signed statement of creditworthiness from the applicant stating that the business seeking RSE status is financially viable and the applicant knows of no adverse credit matters affecting the business;
- a statement from a chartered accountant confirming the business is financially sound and is able to meet all outstanding obligations;
- an authenticated set of accounts showing a sound financial position.
- Evidence of an employer’s human resource policies and practices includes but is not limited to:
- a copy of the business’s human resource manual or guidelines;
- a written statement describing the employer’s human resource policies and practices such as information on:
- how the business recruits workers;
- what checks are carried out on prospective New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizen or resident workers, including any checks done by a recruitment agent on behalf of an employer;
- what remuneration structure is in place;
- any internal disputes resolution policies, including any performance management processes;
- health and safety practices, including any provision of health and safety equipment for workers.
- Evidence of an employer’s commitment to training New Zealand citizens and residents includes but is not limited to:
- records of in-house training and development programmes;
- involvement with any New Zealand Industry Training Organisation;
- records of funding provided to workers to allow attendance at training courses by external training providers.
- Evidence of an employer’s commitment to recruiting New Zealand citizens and residents includes but is not limited to:
- a written description of the steps taken in the previous 12 months to recruit workers;
- evidence of previous advertising;
- a letter of support from an industry body confirming the employer’s commitment to recruiting New Zealanders;
- records of any previous communication with Work and Income regarding the recruitment of workers.
- Where any previous breach of the requirements of immigration policy has occurred (regardless of whether or not that breach resulted in RSE status being rescinded) the employer must provide evidence to satisfy INZ that the cause and consequence of that breach has been remedied.
WH1.5.20 Rescinding RSE status
- INZ may rescind an employer's RSE status where:
- there is any breach of RSE or ATR requirements other than of a minor nature; or
- the conduct of that employer has created an unacceptable risk to the integrity of New Zealand's immigration or employment laws or policies.
- Where an employer’s RSE status has been rescinded, INZ will not approve any further applications for RSE status from the employer that are made within one year of the date their RSE status was rescinded.
- Any decision to rescind RSE status must be approved by an INZ Branch Manager in consultation with their Regional Manager.
WH1.5.25 Reconsideration process for applications for RSE status which are declined
- There is no statutory right of appeal against the decision to decline an application for RSE status.
- INZ may reconsider a declined application for RSE status where the reconsideration request is made in writing and any new information (not amounting to a completely new application) is promptly provided.
WH1.5.30 Currency of RSE status and subsequent applications
- If an initial application for RSE status is successful, RSE status may be granted for a period of two years.
- If a subsequent application for RSE status is successful and the employer has previously held RSE status, and that status was not rescinded, the subsequent RSE status may be granted for a period of three years.
- Where an employer holds RSE status at the time a subsequent RSE application is accepted for consideration by INZ, their current RSE status will continue until the date their subsequent application is decided, unless their RSE status is rescinded during that interim period.
WH1.5.35 Applying to become an RSE
An application for RSE status must be:
- made in New Zealand; and
- made on the Application for Recognised Seasonal Employer Status (NZIS 1140) form; and
- accompanied by the prescribed fee; and
- supported by evidence that demonstrates the employer meets the requirements set out at WH1.5.5.