Accredited Employer Work Visas – no more trial periods

From 29 October 2023, 90-day (or shorter) trial periods cannot be included in employment agreements for migrants seeking Accredited Employer Work Visas (“AEWVs”).  Trial periods can still be used for workers being employed on other work visas eg. partnership-based open work visas and post study work visas. During the 90-day (or less) trial period, either party can terminate the employment agreement by giving the required notice (as specified in the written agreement). 

The purpose of a trial period is so employers (and the new employee) can assess and ensure the employee can do the job for which they have been hired.  If the employer dismisses an employee within the trial period, the employee cannot take a personal grievance action against the employer for unjustified dismissal (the employee can still bring a personal grievance on other grounds for instance, discrimination, harassment or to recover unpaid wages).  The employer is not required to give reasons for the dismissal or consult with the employee before making their decision to dismiss. 

Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) is removing trial periods “to encourage accredited employers to treat migrants fairly and only recruit migrant workers when [employers] have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill”.  On a practical level, removing trial periods protects migrant workers from being unfairly dismissed within 90 days of starting their new job and having no legal recourse.          

INZ check agreements at the job check stage and may also revisit documents during accreditation audits and re-accreditation checks.  If a trial period is included in an employment agreement, employers risk losing their accreditation.  From 29 October 2023, AEWV job check applications will be declined if trial periods are included in the employment agreement.  For job check applications submitted before 29 October but assessed after that date, INZ might request updated information giving employers the opportunity to remove a trial period from the agreement.

We would be happy to review your employment agreement to ensure compliance with INZ requirements under the AEWV regime and meet any further immigration needs you might have.  Please contact us here.