What will happen to trial periods under Labour?

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The 90-day trial period has been embraced by employers across New Zealand since it was first introduced eight years ago but now, organisations are being told to prepare for something new.

“The trial period provision has been a success in creating confidence in employing new people from a business perspective but it would be hard to say there haven’t been a few difficulties,” says Jennifer Tweed, managing director of Employsure New Zealand.

In attempt to amend those difficulties, New Zealand’s coalition government is set to revamp trial periods by introducing a new provision which will require reasons for dismissal and justification.

Once the new legislation comes into play, unjustified dismissal disputes will be heard by a free referee service which can make decisions to reinstate or award damages to a capped amount.

According to Labour, the process is meant to be fast, fair and simple with disputes set to be heard within three weeks of lodgement.

While it sounds effective in theory, Tweed says there’s some concern about how the process will work in practice.

“The current dispute resolution system can be exceptionally problematic for businesses and the gap that we’ve got, from a policy perspective, at the moment is how this referee system will expand out that intermediation and dispute resolution system,” Tweed tells HRD.

“This is particularly important because we’re looking at a situation where determinations can be mandated and lawyers are being excluded from the process but it’s unclear what that means in terms of employment representatives,” she continues.

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