Starting from October 1, 2023, workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program will receive higher pay and sick leave benefits. Also, their sick leave will begin from the first day of employment.
- As of October 1, 2023, employers in the RSE program must pay workers at least the minimum wage plus an additional 10% for the hours they work. This amounts to $24.97 per hour currently. The RSE program allows the the horticulture and viticulture industries to hire workers from other countries for seasonal jobs when there aren’t enough local workers available in NZ.
- RSE employers must ensure that workers are paid for a minimum of 30 hours every week, even if there isn’t enough work. Employment agreements must outline the hourly pay, any piecework rates, the minimum pay requirements, and the employer’s commitment to cover half the cost of the airfare for the worker to travel from their home country to New Zealand.
- RSE employers are required to provide their employees with on-site amenities at work that are both safe and adequate. Workers are expected to cover reasonable housing expenses, including rent, utilities, and other living expenses.
- Deductions from pay must also follow specific rules. Maximum amounts are not indicated because deductions under RSE Instructions must be for actual, reasonable, and verifiable costs, that make sense and can be proven.
- All workers receive information about their rights and responsibilities under the RSE program. Employers are also responsible for looking after the well-being and basic needs of RSE workers, and ensuring their minimum entitlements are met and upheld throughout their employment.
- The pay increase also applies to RSE workers who were granted RSE Limited Visas before October 1, 2023. RSE workers will now receive paid sick leave from the very first day they begin working. Previously, RSE workers were eligible for sick leave after working for 6 months, as outlined in the Holidays Act 2023.
- With the new sick leave rules, RSE workers will get 2 days of sick leave starting from their first work day, and an extra 2 days each month until they reach a total of 10 days on their 4-month work anniversary. However, this change in sick leave rules doesn’t apply to workers who were granted RSE Limited Visas before October 1.
- If an RSE worker switches from one employer to another, the new employment agreement must also adhere to the minimum pay and sick leave requirements.
It is important for employers to meet these improved policies and guidelines, to improve the working conditions for RSE workers, so that their rights and dignity are upheld.
At Three60, we can ensure your agreements are up to date and compliant with the latest employment updates. You can also contact us if you need some more information or clarification about your rights or obligations, as our team have expertise across a diverse range of HR and employment issues.