The 90-day trial periods really should be called the “take a chance on me” workers’ legislation,” according to John Milford, chief executive, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, and ExportNZ Central.
Milford added that research from a new survey reveals just how important the trial period is for New Zealand, “having helped thousands of people into jobs and helped businesses fill critical vacancies”.
Overall, the survey demonstrates just how it is critical that the current law remains in place, added Milford.
“The feedback isn’t theoretical or ideological positioning – this is based on real life, real world examples that make a difference for both employers and their staff,” he said.
“The current bill proposed arbitrarily prevents companies with more than 20 employees from using trial periods.”
Based on the research, Milford believes that many people may miss out on a chance to prove themselves in the workplace, as without the trial employers won’t have the same degree of confidence to employ.
“This would be a backward step – for business, for workers, and for the New Zealand economy.”
Nearly 1000 businesses responded to the survey with 77% saying the 90-day trial period was extremely important part of their decision-making to engage a new employee.
Moreover, the majority of companies (90%) said they had kept employees on after the trial period had finished. They went on to say that 94% of employees employed under the 90-day trial period remained with them for longer than 12 to 18 months.
The main reasons cited for using a 90-day trial period were to see if the employee was capable of performing the role, to see how they would fit into the workplace, the employer wanted to give them a go and give the new employee time to learn the job.
Thirty nine percent of survey respondents who had between 19 to 50 staff said removing the 90-day trial period would negatively impact the way they hire staff. And 72% of respondents recommended using the 90-day trial periods.
About 38% of respondents said they had not let anyone go who they had hired under a 90-day trial period and 37% had let between one and two people go since the trial period was introduced in 2009.
Respondents to the survey were mainly from the manufacturing sector, with construction, retail, professional services and health care being the next largest sectors. The majority of respondents (39%) employed 11 to 49 staff. Twenty percent employed 10 staff or fewer, 18% employed 50 to 100 staff and 14% employed 100 to 250 staff.
The survey was a collaborative effort by the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Business Central, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers Association.
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