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Early Childhood Council Call for Immigration NZ to Lower Pay Threshold

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November 5, 2019.

There has been a bit of a flap in the media about Immigration NZ and pay rates for ECE teachers recruited from overseas.  According to a press release by a business lobby group – the Early Childhood Council (ECC) “ECE centres looking to attract teachers wanting residency must offer an almost $80k annual salary, up from $55k, from 2021.”

Certainly, there have been changes for the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa.  For this visa the annual salary limit has indeed increased from NZD $55,000 to NZD $79,560. Changes are forecast for temporary work visas, including in 2021

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However, our understanding is that most teachers would come under the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

Early childhood (and other) teachers come under ANZSCO 1, the most skilled level.  The minimum pay rate is $25 per hour (equivalent to $52,000 a year). 

Yes, this is still more than qualified, registered and fully certificated ECE teachers can earn in some services.  But it is much less than the $80,000 salary figure given by the ECC – we suspect that ECC looked at the pay rates for the wrong visa type. 

The ECC wants its member childcare centres to be able to more easily recruit teachers from overseas who are prepared to work for less.  

“These immigration issues significantly restrict our member childcare centres from recruiting ECE-qualified teachers.”  

It must be remembered that the Early Childhood Council is a business group representing owners who seem to want cheap labour and they do not want to pay their current staff any more than they have to.  

However, trying to force Immigration NZ to lower remuneration thresholds is not the way to go. Such an approach is contrary to what the New Zealand Government wants – which is to stop employers from exploiting migrants!

Therefore, if the Education Minister’s recently announced incentives to recruit overseas teachers are to work there needs to be an immediate increase to the ministry’s minimum salary attestation rates (and to the Ministry’s funding rates), requiring the ECC’s member childcare centres to pay their teachers more than the current minimum of $21 – $22 per hour depending on qualification.

Employers will not want to pay teachers recruited from overseas more, and create unfairness in their pay scales. So, the answer also lies in the hands of employers to pay their existing teaching staff more than what the Ministry of Education require they at least pay their certificated teachers. 

Disclaimer: We are not immigration lawyers and we do not give immigration advice.  Immigration is a complex area.  We recommend any teacher intending to move to New Zealand, and any early childhood service intending to recruit from overseas, take appropriate specialist advice.

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