Visiting workers' pay creeps up
RSE workers' earnings have increased an average of $1400 over the past four years, according to a report by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The report, published last week, estimated that the average actual earnings of a Recognised Seasonal Employer worker was $12,870 for an average of 5.6 months' work in the 2007-08 summer, increasing to an average of $14,210 for an average 5.5 months' work in the 2010-11 summer.
It said the average earnings of RSE workers increased an inflation-adjusted 3.4 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11, while the average duration of employment increased from 5.2 months to 5.5 months. The seasonal earnings differences that existed between countries in the first season had largely diminished.
Differences in seasonal earnings generally related to variations in employment duration, which could be affected by weather, crop conditions and other factors, the report said.
Under the RSE programme, workers can spend up to nine months in New Zealand. The report said 81 per cent of employment spells were between four to seven months, with an average employment duration of five to six months.
The average return rate across the five seasons from 2007-08 to 2011-2 was 50 per cent, the report said. This was calculated as the proportion of first-time workers who return in the season immediately following.
Of those first-time workers who returned the following season, 87 per cent worked for the same employer.
It said that more than half (56 per cent) of all RSE workers had returned at least once to work in another season (including non-consecutive seasons), but return rates vary between source countries.
Of the Pacific states, workers from Tonga and Vanuatu have the highest return rates (53 per cent). Among non-Pacific states, Philippine workers are most likely to return (74 per cent).
Last summer, the sixth season the RSE scheme has operated, only 31 per cent of RSE workers were "new" - the remaining 69 per cent were returning workers.
The report said 61 per cent of workers from the first season (2007-08) have returned to work at least one other season, and 13 per cent (over 550) have participated in all six seasons.
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