Sector Agreement

The New Zealand government’s Sector agreements allow for some employment sectors and roles to pay below the median wage to migrant workers on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). The Employers in these sectors, in return, agree to work towards improving their sectors so they rely less on migrant workers.

The following Employment Sectors have agreements or exemptions that allow them to pay less than the median wage for some roles for a limited time:

  • tourism and hospitality
  • care workforce
  • seafood processing (onshore)
  • construction and infrastructure
  • meat processing
  • seasonal snow and adventure tourism
  • transport

Each sector agreement may last for however long it needs to make its agreed improvements. The government will review each sector’s needs at the end of the agreement, and either update, extend or end them.

Stand-down period

Where a migrant worker is paid below the median wage and their visa expires, they may have to spend a set amount of time outside New Zealand before they can apply for another work visa for employment paid below the median wage. This is called a stand-down period and can be between 4 and 12 months depending on the type of visa and sector you work in.

The stand-down period makes it clear to potential migrant workers that there are limits to how long they can work in New Zealand in their role. It also gives a reason for employers to rely less on lower-skilled migrant labour. 

For example, meat and seafood process workers get an AEWV for 7 months to cover a season. Their 4-month stand-down means they must leave New Zealand to apply for the same visa. 

They can continue staying in New Zealand without the stand-down period if they obtain an AEWV for a role that pays them at or above the median wage, or apply for another visa, such as a student visa.

If the employers wish to avoid their migrant workers from leaving New Zealand, due to their stand-down period, they can recruit them into a new role paying at or above the median wage.

Uncapped and capped sectors

Some sectors are either ‘capped’ or ‘uncapped’. This means they may or may not have a set number of migrant workers they can hire and pay below the median wage each year.

Currently, the uncapped sectors are

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

Capped sectors are

  • Meat processing: 320 workers per year
  • Seafood processing (onshore): 600 workers per year

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