18 Mar 2009

Employers warned not to abuse a 90-day job law

9:25 pm on 18 March 2009

The Government has warned small employers not to abuse a law which allows them to employ new employees on a 90-day trial.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson told the Human Resources Institute on Wednesday the Government will monitor how employers use the new law.

The 90-day trial law came into effect at the beginning of March. It allows companies with fewer than 20 employees to employ people on probation for 90-days - if both parties agree.

Under the arrangement, employees can be dismissed within that period with no legal redress, except if discrimination is involved.

Ms Wilkinson said the Government will not condone unscrupulous and unfair behaviour by employers and supports a union's campaign to name and shame employers who abuse the law.

But Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway is perplexed by the Government's approach because the law removes the rights of workers who are covered by the 90-day trial period.

Mr Conway said the union has received a number of queries about the trial period and believes it will not be too long before a complaint is made against an employer.

Prime Minister John Key told trade union leaders in Wellington on Wednesday that the Government wants to work co-operatively with business and unions.

Mr Key said fully expects unions and employers to oppose some government policy, but the job summit showed what is possible when unions, business and the Government co-operate.

The Government is also looking at further changes to industrial law, including clearing up complications around the Holidays Act.