Relaxed visas for essential workers

Many migrant workers employed in essential services have had visa conditions relaxed.

On Thursday Immigration New Zealand announced, via its website, visa-holders with employer specific work visas would be able to vary their hours and be deployed to other roles within their current workplace.

The move has been welcomed by retailers in Queenstown affected by the change.

Foodstuffs NZ Head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said the loosening of visa restrictions had had a positive impact at Pak’nSave Queenstown.

"As a result we have been able to extend the hours worked for two of our staff members who hold student visas, as well as a number of staff on work-supported visas," Mrs Laird said.

"The additional hands are welcomed during this time as we continue to manage the Level 4 lockdown measures in-store."

The new rules also stipulate visa-holders are able to perform their current roles in a different workplace to help essential businesses continue to operate while the country remains at Alert Level 3 or 4, and for the six weeks following.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult

praised the move.

"Migrant workers are a key part of our district’s workforce, but due to their visa conditions they’re also some of the most vulnerable under the current circumstances," Mr Boult said.

The changes also mean international students employed in essential services roles will be able to work longer hours for their current employers while the country remains at Alert Level 3 or 4, and for six weeks following.

However, these students must still meet their study requirements and should discuss their plans with their education provider.

hugh.collins@odt.co.nz

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