Employment lawyer says Government's reintroduction of 90-day trials only benefits employers, not employees 

An employment lawyer says the new government's plan to reintroduce 90-day trial periods is unlikely to get unemployed people jobs and only really benefits employers.   

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon revealed his Government's 100-day plan at his first post-Cabinet press conference on Wednesday. Included in the plan was the promised introduction of legislation to restore 90-day trial periods for all businesses.  Currently, only companies with fewer than 20 employees can use them.   

In Opposition Luxon said reintroducing the trial period was a "good way for an employer to take on an employee, especially when we have 55,000 more New Zealanders on the unemployment benefit today, at a time of record low unemployment and also lots of worker shortages".    

But speaking with AM on Thursday employment lawyer Steph Dyhrberg said there is little evidence to suggest the policy helps people into work.    

"There was research done in, I think, 2016 and 2017... that the Treasury funded about whether it actually increased the number of people getting jobs, and particularly whether it increased people coming off benefits to get jobs. And the impact on the whole economy was 0.8 percent, so it's not demonstrably advantageous," Dyhrberg said. 

She said there's "not really" any benefit to employees from the policy which is focused on benefiting employers.    

"I suppose you could say that employees don't like it after a couple of months it gives them the ability [to quit] as well. But it doesn't actually say that. It talks about if the employer terminates the employee's employment during the first 90 days of an agreed trial that's in writing... if notice is given of termination there is no right to bring a personal grievance of the termination. So it's hard to see a real benefit for employees, I think this is really about a benefit for employers."   

Dyhrberg said while employers don't need to give a reason for termination within the period, there are some procedural criteria they must meet such as having a written trial agreement before the employee does any work, including being shown around the office.    

She added employees don't have to agree to a trial period and if they have decent bargaining power, especially during a tight labour market, they could refuse to sign up for it.    

Employers cannot use the trial period respectively and it can only apply to new employees. She added employers have to give notice of termination within the first 90 days otherwise the employee has the right to lodge a personal grievance claim.    

Watch the full interview above.