Dismissal Laws

The Dominion Post reports:

Many employers say the present rules are too heavily weighted in favour of workers, and make it too easy for frivolous complaints. Business New Zealand has also raised concerns about employers being penalised for not following correct processes when sacking workers, even though the dismissal was proved justified.

But unions are alarmed by some of the options, which include:

Increasing the length of the 90-day period for workers in small firms, which stops them taking unjustified dismissal cases.

On this issue, I tend to side with the unions. I am a big supporter of the current 90 day grievance free period, but I do not support it being extended to say 180 days.

In my experience 90 days is long enough to work out if someone is going to work out. Hell, 30 days will often do that.

Six months is, in my opinion, too long to keep someone on what is effectively a trial period.

Extending the 90-day rule, presently restricted to companies employing fewer that 20 staff, to those with up to 49.

This I do not have a problem with. In fact I am comfortable with a 90 day period for all employers.

Changing the “justifiable dismissal” test to what a reasonable employer `might’ have done, rather than what they `would’ have done.

My view is that there is too much focus on form over substance.

Removing reinstatement as a primary remedy in cases.

This one I have some concerns over also. If reinstatement is not a primary remedy, it may encourage unjustified dismissals. However a workplace can be very unsettled when an employee is reinstated to a job against the employer’s wishes – it is almost impossible to ever regain the trust needed for an employment relationship to work.

My gut reaction is reinstatement should be the primary remedy, but one has to recognise that often this will not be sensible.

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