Myths over the probation period bill

Goodness the way some people are reacting you would think National was passing a law allowing every worker to be fired for Christmas. In reality the law – which was an explicit election pledge – is extremely modest, and merely catches us up to the rest of the developed world.

Here’s a few things you may now know:

  1. A probation period is not automatic for new jobs in small businesses. It only occurs if the employer and employee agree to it.  Try offering me a job with a probation period, and I’ll tell you where to stick it! Mind you as a owner any of my clients can sack me at any time without any notice!
  2. The 90 days is a maximum, and it can be less.
  3. All rights such as good faith, non-discrimination, non-harrassment, holidays, leave, OSH are maintained during a probation period. It is only if you are sacked for non performance, that you can not take a personal grievance. If you are sacked because you are pregnant (for example), you can still take a grievance.
  4. There can be only one trial period per employer. An employer can not have a trial period for an employee has worked for them previously.
  5. If you leave a benefit to take up a job terminated within the 90 day probation period, there is no stand down returning to the benefit.
  6. While small businesses (less than 20 staff) make up 97% of enterprises, they only employ 31% of employees.
  7. The law only applies to new jobs, and can not affect any existing employee in their current job.

I suspect those have never worked in a small business, will never understand the need for this law change. One bad staff appointment can wipe out the entire firm’s profitability. Many small businesses owners have periods where they are paying themselves less than the staff.

Most owners will do almost anything to keep a good staff member on. It is expensive and a hassle to have to find a replacement. If they do use the provisions of the new law (to be) it will be because they relucantly have concluded the person is unsuited for the job. You can’t always tell in advance from a CV and 60 minute interview.

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