90 – DAY TRIAL PERIODS – FARMING FLOP OR NOT?


We say not!  Our last article proposed that the 90-day trial period was not working and essentially caused more harm than good. 

We quoted Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (“MBIE”) figures that in 2012, 27% of employers said that they had fired at least one new employee during or at the end of the trial.   What is not said is that these figures do not reveal the successful employment relationships that have been created from this change in legislation, as they never come to the attention of MBIE or the Employment Court.

90-day trial period provisions are working well – farmers are able to provide job opportunities to those they may previously have overlooked.  Without this useful law, you would not take risks in hiring someone who might not be an ordinary candidate.  For example, those candidates who have no farming background or those whose employment records contain no New Zealand agricultural experience, but show a strong willingness to be trained.

Taranaki Farmers are busy people, with tougher times, resourcefulness is needed.   This law is exactly what we need to cut through the time it would ordinarily take to exit an employee not working out.

Recruiting staff takes vital time out of busy schedules.  While we want to get recruitment right first time, we don’t always and we don’t want to have to throw more time, energy and other resources into an employment relationship that is quite clearly not working out.    It is our experience that most employers don’t abuse the 90-day trial period provisions, as promoted by those opposed to this change in New Zealand employment law. It is sensibly used to ensure that a productive and successful employment relationship is achieved.

This change also frees up employees to also be able to assess the workplace and see if they fit. A number of employers have reported to us that some new recruits resign during their 90-day trial period, allowing an employee to leave their employment without having their employment record blemished.  Something that those employers had not experienced before, prior to the introduction of this law.

There are still protections for employees as the Employment Court has placed a high threshold on what would be considered legally compliant when employing under the 90-day trial period. Of course there are these protections but using the 90-day trial period correctly can save time and money.

Following a good process will ensure that farmers are able to offer good, productive employment relationships, recruiting employees who are best suited to working on their farms.  This is exactly what this change in legislation set out to achieve.

There are always going to be those employers who act in a manner bringing the good name of other employers into disrepute  (after all, that is why we have a job) but that is no reason to discard the law or to not seriously consider using a 90-day trial period in a brand new employment relationship.

 

The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 

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Diana Koorts