Evaluating Employment Changes

How the changes measure up

Trial periods are now being used by both small and large firms across a range of industries, positions, and skill levels. Employers

reported trial periods have reduced the potential cost of dismissals without adding additional costs. Of employers who used trial

periods with new hires, 27% had dismissed at least one employee during or at the end of the trial period. It seems while trial periods

have not changed the nature of employer/employee relationships, employers see them as a way to help manage risk when trialling

new staff. Interviews with employers who had dismissed staff indicated they followed correct procedures and were more

comfortable there would be no comebacks.

While the Holidays Act changes have increased flexibility and choices for some employers and employees, it seems overall the

changes have neither increased ease of use nor decreased costs. There is still a lack of understanding of how the law works. Some

employers find the Holidays Act provisions difficult to apply in some arrangements, such as for people with variable work hours or

shifts. Compliance costs for businesses in calculating entitlements and payments haven’t really changed.

While there was no increase in the number of problems reported, changes to union access and communications during collective

bargaining seem to have had comparatively little impact overall among employers and unions though they seem likely to have

worsened matters in sites where employer-union relations are already poor.

Parties in disputes have more choices as mediators are now able to make formal recommendations. The use of informal

recommendations by mediators has increased. There has been little change in the time taken to resolve cases.

Key commentators said that fairness was already relatively well balanced between employers and employees and this balance has

not shifted much. The amendment preventing mediation settlements from being agreed for less than minimum entitlements was

sometimes seen as not helping the balance of fairness where the employer did not have funds to pay the employee’s full entitlement

and agreement could not always be achieved. The amended test of justification hasn’t yet produced practical outcomes, although

codifying the considerations in applying the test may have increased the transparency to the disputants.

Although it’s still too early to assess the changes’ full impact, the findings were seen by the Ministry as generally positive, though it

did acknowledge little change or mixed results in some areas.

Disclaimer: This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms only. The publication should not be relied upon to provide specific information without also obtaining appropriate professional advice after detailed examination of your particular situation.

Posted: Thu 11 Jun 2015

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