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Entitlement to Work

Published December 7, 2017 (last updated on June 12, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure all their employees have a legal entitlement to work. Employers caught hiring employees who are not New Zealand citizens, do not have a visa or are in breach of their visa, face serious penalties.

To avoid being fined, employers need to make sure every prospective employee has a valid working visa with an entitlement to work, or, is a permanent resident before the hiring process can start.

What is Entitlement to Work?

New Zealand is a diverse country offering a range of work and lifestyle opportunities. To work in New Zealand legally, a prospective employee must meet certain requirements and provide the correct documentation to prove their current work status.

Who is Entitled to Work in New Zealand?

To prove eligibility to work in New Zealand legally, there are certain documents which will or will not be accepted.

People who have an entitlement to work in New Zealand must hold an:

  • Australian or New Zealand birth certificate

  • Australian or New Zealand citizenship certificate

  • Australian or New Zealand passport

  • Evidence of citizenship certificate

  • Valid working visa (make sure the visa allows them entitlement to work)

These are the only documents to prove someone can work in New Zealand legally.

Employers should always request certified copies of these documents. They should also have them approved by an authorised person, such as a Justice of the Peace (JP).

What are Unacceptable Documents?

Documents not accepted as proof of entitlement to work in New Zealand are:

  • Driver’s license

  • IRD number

  • Bank account

  • Referrals from employment agencies or past employers

How to Verify Entitlement to Work

There are ways for employers to avoid serious penalties and only hire employees entitled to work in New Zealand.

Before hiring a new employee, employers can perform a background check on their current work status, as long as there is consent. Employers should visit the Immigration New Zealand website and register to VisaView to see their current visa status, passport number, and other relevant working conditions.

It’s free to register for VisaView and only takes a few minutes to perform the check.

By performing an entitlement to work check, employers can find out if there are any restrictions on the type of work they can do, and if they are only allowed to work for certain employers.

Seasonal Employees and Visa Verification

In New Zealand, the horticulture and viticulture industries often do not have enough workers to keep up with seasonal demand.

To make up for the labour shortage, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme lets employers bring workers from certain overseas countries to New Zealand to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops.

Employers must meet the minimum requirements to be an eligible RSE such as:

To hire the same employee for another season employers need to request a new agreement which should be granted if they meet the conditions of their permit, and if there is still a shortage on local labour.

Peninsula can help with entitlement to work checklists to protect employers when hiring new employees. For peace of mind, employers should call Peninsula on 0800 568 012.

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