Kiwi farmers need to be aware of law change around Filipino dairy workers

Cross Country Recruitment's managing director Ben De'Ath.
Supplied

Cross Country Recruitment's managing director Ben De'Ath.

Law changes that protect Filipino immigrants coming into the country to work in the dairy industry have had "nothing but positive response from both kiwi farm owners and Filipino employees," a recruitment adviser says.

The managing director of Cross Country Recruitment, Ben De'Ath, said the law changes were brought in to protect Filipino workers, and allow New Zealand employers greater certainty of the quality of incoming worker they were hiring.

He said following a few Christchurch instances where incoming Filipino construction workers were not getting the hours they were contractually obliged to and were being housed inadequately, law changes were put into effect.  

The changes were implemented by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Manila to ensure workers were not being exploited while overseas. This means the Philippines government can hold employers to account, who did not hold up their end of the deal in terms of providing the hours and housing that they were obliged to provide under the employment contract.

The law change also meant the Philippines could place restrictions on whether individuals could leave the country, regardless of whether they have an approved work visa. One of those restrictions is that each potential immigrant must be attached to a legally incorporated or accredited company with establishments in New Zealand and in the Philippines. 

New Zealand farmers need to be aware of this as they could go to significant efforts filing Immigration NZ paperwork and successfully attaining a visa, only to have their employee stopped from leaving the Philippines, De'Ath said. 

New Zealand farmers can go through a process to become legally incorporated but it requires accreditation of the farming business itself via the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) which is located in Australia. 

Amidst the current migration boom of Filipinos entering into the New Zealand dairy industry, De' Ath said that Immigration NZ has been applying greater scrutiny in the assessment of Filipinos with Philippine farm experience. "Farmers trying to comply with these legislative requirements on their own might struggle to get prospective employee's employment history verified."

There had also been issues with a handful of Filipinos exaggerating how much farming experience they had, which had also factored into the clamp down.

Cross Country Recruitment, which has a one man office in Manila, two experienced dairy farmers, a former lawyer in De'Ath and the two regional representatives who also have dairy industry experience in their ranks, specialise in entrance and mid level position placement in the New Zealand farming sector, with particular focus in the Waikato region. 

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 - Stuff

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