When National introduced the 90 day work trial legislation upon becoming the government at the 2008 election, there was an uproar from the Left. There was a further uproar when the scheme was extended on 1 April 2011.
The press releases were many. Grant Robertson told us that "Fire at Will puts health and education at risk" and that "Fire at Will could out new Supercity staff at risk". Winnie Laban reckoned that "Fire at Will" was going to be bad news for Pacific workers and damaging for Maori workers. Darien Fenton claimed that the Fire at Will legislation would contribute to more workplace injuries and deaths. And our old friends the Maritime Union of New Zealand, long-time donors to the Labour Party described the legislation as Government attacks on workers.
What you see above is just a small sampling from the buffet of dire predictions. But the reality is completely different; Stuff reports:
While the dust is settling on the 90 day trial period introduction just over a year ago, issues do still arise and 18 cases have been heard by the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court.Under a 90 day trial period provision, new employees can be dismissed within the first 90 days of employment and cannot raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. However, those employees can still bring a personal grievance on other grounds (including discrimination, harassment or unjustified disadvantage).In most cases where an employee has successfully challenged the use a trial period by their employer, the Courts have focused on technical slip ups made by employers. These meant that the employer could not rely on the trial period and the employee was able to raise a personal grievance about their dismissal.
So there you have it; far from being an employment apocalypse as Labour especially had predicted, the scheme is actually working as intended, and abuses of the process are being addressed. That just 18 cases have gone to the ERA or the Employment Court suggests that widespread abuses of the 90-day rule by unscrupulous employers are simply not happening.