Santa’s annual immigration and employment queries


As you all know, Cavell Leitch has been advising the most important Christmas celebrity for some years now. As always, his Christmas spirit is such that he wants to give the non-confidential advice away to other employers, just in case they need a little bit of help too.

Permanent basis for his elves?

Last year, Santa set up a factory in New Zealand.  He staffed it with a number of highly skilled elves.  The venture has been a huge success.  This year’s present production is well ahead of schedule.  Therefore, he wants to permanently keep his elves here to make every Christmas just as successful. 

However, Santa learned from Cavell Leitch’s newsletter that the residence scheme has changed.  What does it mean for Santa and his elves?

The number of points for an elf to qualify for residence is now 160.  This is a lot higher than what it was this time last year.  It was only 100 points then.  This may mean that it is quite difficult for Santa’s elves to qualify. 

We are having to separately assess each elf for residence.  This is because each elf’s eligibility will depend on his or her qualifications, work experience and age.  For example, any elf aged over 56 won’t be able to qualify.  This is very sad, as some of them are 400 years old!

Also, very few of the elves have any formal qualifications.  They do have many many years of experience, of course.  But, they can only count a maximum of ten years of work experience towards qualifying for residence.  So, without a formal qualification, many of the elves may not be able to get residence.

Also, the elves must pass an approved English language test to get residence.  This is the equivalent of an IELTS 6.5.  If the elves were US, Canadian, UK or Irish citizens, with five year of workshop experience, they might not need to pass an English test.  However, they are not.  They mostly speak elvish, and are often nervous about speaking in English.  Santa is worried that they will fail an English language test.

What is the solution?

What we are helping Santa to do is to become an accredited employer with Immigration New Zealand.

Once Santa’s factory is accredited, his elves can get work-to-residence visas and, after two years of Kiwi summer Christmases, they can qualify for residence.  The elves should not then need to prove work experience, qualifications, or sit an English language test.  They just need to work for Santa for two years, in New Zealand, earning at least $55,000 per annum.  Santa also needs to keep his accreditation and remain a good employer throughout those two years, which of course he will!

If Santa doesn’t want to become accredited, then he can try to obtain three year work visas for his elves.  He better do that soon, as the grant of three year work visas, for Canterbury, is set to end on 31 December this year!

Big changes for Santa’s factory and employment agreements

We have also been helping Santa with the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, as well as managing a number of other employment law changes.

To start, Santa and Mrs Claus have had to rethink how they approach health and safety. The key issues that they have considered this year have been:

  • What obligations does Santa’s company, Santa’s Presents Limited, have as a PCBU to the elves it employs, the reindeer it houses, and the children Santa and the elves visit?

  • How will Santa make sure Santa’s Presents Limited meets its obligations?

  • Santa and Mrs Claus are directors of Santa’s Presents Limited, and are therefore Officers under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. They have had to think about what this means and what their personal liability is if Santa’s Presents Limited doesn’t meet its obligations under the Act.

  • Finally, Santa has had to get his head around horizontal consultation, and what that means when he has to contract some of his work to the Easter Bunny.

In addition, Santa and Mrs Claus removed the zero-hour provisions from their employment agreements, as they are now unlawful.  They also had to re-write the availability provisions that tried to make the elves be available for present-making 24/7.

Luckily, a few changes to Santa’s employment agreements, and a clear health and safety direction, mean Santa, Mrs Claus, and Santa’s Presents Limited are in tip-top employment law shape!

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Copyright © Cavell Leitch. All rights reserved. Redistribution is only permitted with express written permission. For enquiries please contact us. This article by its nature cannot be comprehensive and cannot be relied on by clients as advice. It is provided to assist clients to identify legal issues on which they should seek legal advice. Please consult the professional staff of Cavell Leitch for advice specific to your situation.