What of the workforce as borders re-open?


The Government has announced its five step plan for the borders to re-open, meaning employers can once again start planning for skilled workers to enter the country, Civil Contractors Chief Executive Alan Pollard says

While this will be a phased re-opening of the border, the good news is it will enable us to start bringing in skilled and experienced people from off-shore once again.

  • From 14 March, skilled workers earning at least 1.5x the median wage as well as travellers on a working holiday scheme can enter New Zealand and self-isolate.
  • From 13 April, that extends to current temporary work visa holders.
  • From July it includes those arriving under the Accredited Employer Work Visa categories, those with a valid visitor visa as well as those from Australia or other countries which do not require a visa.
  • All visa categories open in October.

A re-balance of salaries in response to industry’s calls has also been announced, bringing the approved salary level for skilled migrants down from above $130,000 to just under $85,000.

As always, the devil will be in the detail and we will make sure the civil construction industry has a voice at the table for what follows. We’re anticipating a further announcement from Government in the coming days.

On the other side of the coin Australia reopens its borders on 21 February, a good nine months before we fully re-open. Once again, the country is faced with a balancing act.

There is a risk a sizeable part of our workforce may depart for the big OE or a better offer offshore, while the other part is in isolation after contact with widespread community transmission of COVID (although the close contact exemption scheme will help).

It begs the question for industries like civil construction where the workforce can’t work remotely – if you’re down on workforce through no fault of your own, how can you deliver on project terms and meet critical timeframes? And what can you do if your clients seek to impose penalties?

We’re looking at the issues and will put together a webinar exploring the implications of self-isolation on the workforce and on construction contracts in the near future.