Making it easier for RSE workers to send money home

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As labour shortages continue to bite, and calls go out for greater numbers of immigrant workers in New Zealand, one progressive New Zealand business is forging ahead to ensure the overseas labour-force working here in Aotearoa is well served.

These overseas workers are unable to participate in NZ’s KiwiSaver superannuation and too often miss the opportunity to save for their retirement, whilst working in New Zealand.

New Zealand owned fund administration specialist Appello Services Limited (who also administer KiwiSaver schemes) responded to an approach from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2019 and designed and then ran a pilot programme for RSE workers to be able to contribute to their home country superannuation schemes whilst working in NZ.

The resultant platform is known as the Seasonal Workers Superannuation Administration System (SWSAS).

Nowhere in New Zealand is reliance on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme more acutely felt than in the Bay of Plenty, particularly in the horticulture sector. Large numbers of Pacific Island workers from Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji are all beneficiaries of Appello’s service and the SWSAS platform.

Any mechanisms that can help foreign workers and their local employers are being embraced in the Bay of Plenty and nationally.

What is SWSAS and how does it work?

As a simple analogy, SWSAS provides an equivalent service to seasonal workers and Pacific Island superannuation funds to that provided by IRD for New Zealand KiwiSaver; SWSAS is a channel through which seasonal worker’s superannuation contributions can be filed and paid by employers, then aggregated, converted to appropriate foreign currencies and transferred to specified overseas National Provident Funds.

SWSAS is principally used for seasonal worker’s superannuation contributions, however the platform is increasingly also being used by seasonal workers to make payroll deductions for regular remittances or bulk remittances back to their home country bank accounts.

“Several of the Pacific National Provident Funds are administered by Appello’s NPF software platform, so the SWSAS platform integrates seamlessly with the NPF’s business processes,” says Appello managing director Craig Nodder.

“We were not surprised, but certainly we were encouraged when the pilot was recognised as a resounding success by all the stakeholders.”

“Progressively more and more Pacific Island National Provident Funds and Approved Employers have become SWSAS participants over the last two years, and SWSAS is now also being offered in Australia,” he says with a sense of pride.

Why has the platform been a success?

According to Nodder, SWSAS has been successful not only because it is simple, secure and easy for both workers and employers to use, but because it also allows workers to send money home far more cheaply than if they used traditional wire transfer service providers.

“SWSAS provides a safe and secure pathway for workers to make voluntary superannuation contributions and send money home conveniently, cheaply and with full transparency,” he explains. “The SWSAS system workflows, multiple levels of reporting and audit tracing we have developed make the platform an absolute stand-out in my mind.”

The development and successful take-up of SWSAS has been an exceptional achievement considering the challenges Covid-19 has presented all sectors in since 2019.

NZ Immigration has also endorsed SWSAS for use by Approved Employers here in NZ. The platform is also compliant with New Zealand’s anti-money laundering laws.

Appello’s strong presence and rapid growth in the Bay of Plenty led to the business’ recent sponsorship of the PMG Charitable Trust.

According to Nodder, “It seemed like a natural fit and a great way to give back to the community we work in.”

For more information go to: www.appelloservices.co.nz or send an email to swsas.operations@appelloservices.co.nz

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