COVID-19 Support available to migrants and refugees
If you or your family have been affected by COVID-19, there is help available.
Migrant workers have the same employment rights and obligations as all other New Zealand workers. Employers and employees must discuss and work together on how to manage the effects of COVID-19 on their working arrangements.
For the latest information on the COVID-19 support available for migrants and refugees, please visit Immigration New Zealand.
To help you understand some of the finer points of communication in New Zealand workplaces, there’s an interactive learning tool you can use called Worktalk. It looks at how Kiwis at work fit in with each other, how we deal with conflict and the ways we give instructions and advice.
If English isn’t your first language, you may be able to access English for Employees courses run by English Language Partners, a not-for-profit community-based organisation.
English for Employees is a part time, flexible programme designed for people who are already in work. As well as looking at language, the course will also help you with understanding the workplace in New Zealand.
The course is free for citizens and permanent residents, but other migrants can join the classes at a cost.
Many larger workplaces in New Zealand provide a service to help employees with any problems they are experiencing.
It’s called an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Ask if there’s one available in your workplace when you start work.
Most employers understand that settling in as new migrant can be hard, so if there’s some form of help you need, don’t be afraid of asking.
You may simply need some time off during the day to sort out some paperwork or for an appointment. Or, they may be able to offer you a “buddy” who you can help explain things you don’t understand, or some extra leave if there’s something back in your home country that you need to do.
Know your rights
The law protects New Zealand employees in a number of ways. Make sure you’re aware of your rights. There’s more information on our Employment rights page.
New Zealand is committed to ensuring migrant workers are treated fairly. If you feel you or someone you know is being exploited, or if your employment rights aren’t being respected, you should ask for help. Information about what to do in this situation is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.
The same information is available in other languages, including Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Fijian, Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Samoan, Tagalog, Tongan and Vietnamese.
Unions are organisations that represent groups of workers with employers. You have total freedom over whether or not you’ll join a union in your workplace. It is illegal for your employer to influence that decision.
If you choose to join a union, you will pay a membership fee, which can be paid directly or taken out of your wages.
More information about unions and which ones cover your occupation is available on the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) website.