Sep 18, 2023

Median wage increase – Significant changes ahead for employers of skilled migrants

We’ve had a number of questions lately around the upcoming median wage increase.

It’s vital that your organisation stays informed about changes that can impact your workforce from both a cost and hiring perspective. Below is some info to help you get across the upcoming increase.

Last month, Stats NZ released their annual data on median hourly earnings from wages and salaries, covering the period up to June 2023. Their report revealed a significant 6.6% increase, pushing the median hourly rate to $31.61.

For those employing Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders, the current median wage stands at $29.66, unless their role falls under an exempt category.

The annual adjustment of the median wage impacts AEWV, Partner and Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) visas. Traditionally, these adjustments occur in February, and we anticipate a similar process next year, with other wage thresholds linked to the median wage also undergoing revisions.

So what does this mean for your existing staff on visas?

From November 27, 2023, the maximum validity of the AEWV will extend from 3 to 5 years for those meeting the median wage criteria. This will not be an automatic process, and those looking to extend to 5 years will need to apply for the balance in order to be granted an extension. Therefore, you might want to explore options to extend the visas of your existing staff now, before these changes take effect, especially if they are on an exempt wage.

Additionally, employees working towards residency eligibility under skilled categories may need to ensure their earnings align with the median wage, in order to claim New Zealand-based skilled work experience.

Note that this change won’t affect the work rights, expiry dates, or visa conditions of international workers on existing AEWVs.

We understand that every international staff member’s situation is unique. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. It’s always better to seek advice than to risk losing valuable team members or incurring unexpected costs due to complexity.

Median wage factors to watch out for when hiring new staff

It’s crucial to consider potential cost increases when recruiting. We always advise employers to stay informed about current and future earning requirements, as they may impact the recruitment and visa application process as well as your bottom line.

This consideration becomes especially vital when you have a Collective Agreement in place, as any pay rates or offers outside of the Collective Agreement should not undermine this.

For roles falling within relevant Sector Agreements that might qualify for median wage exemptions, our team is here to assist you in planning your workforce and pay rates effectively. If you’re already in the midst of the recruitment process, it’s essential to assess how these Sector Agreements can work to your advantage and whether any strategies need adjustment as you progress.

Keep your eye out for our recording and see you at the SARNZ Conference & Tradeshow 2023!

We’ve had a lot of requests lately for our popular Workforce Reviews and Immigration Meetings – a valuable option to help employers stay abreast of policy changes and take the headache out of workforce retention.

We’ll put a recording together on these as well more detail around the upcoming median wage increase.

For those of you heading to the SARNZ Conference & Tradeshow this week, I’ve been invited to speak on their panel this Thursday at 10am. Plus our team will be there – stand 28 – so do come and have a chat.


Nassim Lalehzari
Chief Commercial Officer – Visas
IAA License #201200100

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