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