Happiness? How much can you sell that for?

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, December 11th, 2008 - 41 comments
Categories: national/act government, workers' rights - Tags:

We’re told that every country in the OECD except New Zealand and Denmark has a probation period like National/ACT’s Fire at Will law. Apart from being incorrect – we already have provision for probation periods like other countries do, difference is in those countries and under our current law a dismissal can be challenged as unjustified, the new law would take that right away – this line does raise an interesting question: Why don’t we want to be like Denmark? After all, it is happiest country in the world.

41 comments on “Happiness? How much can you sell that for?”

  1. Scribe 1

    “Happiness? How much can you sell that for?’

    Not as much as an Illinois US senate seat, I bet 😉

  2. tsmithfield 2

    But our probation period is a claytons one. There are exactly the same requirements for dismissing staff at the end of the 90 day probation period as there is at any other time. If this is the case, then what is the point of having a probation period at all?

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    Denmark has had a center-right government for the last seven years, led by a prime minister who has been a strong advocate for cutting taxes, deregulation, and privatisation.

    As for a probation period in New Zealand law, that is sophistry SP. New Zealand law doesn’t allow for probationary periods to bypass normal dismissal procedures. It’s like saying: “We’re declaring December 12 a public holiday, except everybody still has to go to work, and nobody gets paid extra for that holiday.”

  4. Yeah, current probation law requires natural justice for employees. sucks eh?

  5. gingercrush 5

    Denmark is such a weird country to compare us to.

  6. Billy 6

    Steve, I understand that you are against the bill and I understand the reasons why. But it is absolutely disingenuous to pretend that “probationary” periods under the current legislation are probationary in any way. If the same rules apply to terminating employment during the probationary period as afterwards it is simply a different name for the same thing.

    Problem: we need probationary periods in employment agreements.

    Solution: call the first three months a probationary period but make it different in no way to any other period of the employment relationship.

    Problem: we do not have enough rich people.

    Solution: call everyone who owns a pair of socks rich.

    Problem: global warming.

    Solution: recalibrate the thermometer.

    This is getting easy. What else you got wants fixing?

  7. roger nome 7

    “tsmithfield”

    Not true – Labour’s probationary period broadened the lawful causes of dismissal to include “business reasons” – i.e. the nature of the business meant that the employee was only needed for a specified amount of time.

    The Employment Relations Act was an attempt to balance the needs of business (i.e. flexibility) with justice for employees. National isn’t concerned with justice for employees, only flexibility of labour supply for employers. An employer will be able to fire someone who refuses to do unpaid work – so where’s the justice in that?

    Tim – Denmarks government is far to the left of anything we’ve seen from the democrats in the US for the last 30 years, and Denmark has one of the most equal wealth distribution stats of any country in the developed world – so from an international perspective, it’s a centre left government.

  8. Billy 8

    roger nome,

    Don’t be stupid. An employer can sack and employee outside a probationary period for “business reasons” as well. Always have been able to.

  9. roger nome 9

    Billy – redundancy is different to probation – read the Act.

  10. Billy 10

    I have read the Act as it happens.

    How about Section 67:

    (1) Where the parties to an employment agreement agree as part of the agreement that an employee will serve a period of probation or trial after the commencement of the employment, —
    (a)
    the fact of the probation or trial period must be specified in writing in the employment agreement; and
    (b)
    neither the fact that the probation or trial period is specified, nor what is specified in respect of it, affects the application of the law relating to unjustifiable dismissal to a situation where the employee is dismissed in reliance on that agreement during or at the end of the probation or trial period.

    So it’s rather like there is no difference whether you are in a probationary period or not. You still need two things: a good substantive reason and a fair process. That substantive reason (inside or outside the probationary period) might be that there is no work for the employee to do. There are no special rules for the probationary period.

  11. roger. you owned them there, old boy.

    like they say, information changes things.

  12. Billy. you’re a good sort. consider you are arguing that we ought to have a law that takes away employees right to not be sacked without “a good substantive reason and a fair process.”

  13. Tim Ellis 13

    Tim – Denmarks government is far to the left of anything we’ve seen from the democrats in the US for the last 30 years, and Denmark has one of the most equal wealth distribution stats of any country in the developed world – so from an international perspective, it’s a centre left government.

    The Democrats are far to the right of anything we’ve seen from the right in Europe over the last 30 years roger.

    Rasmussen has been the Danish PM for the last seven or eight years. He’s a right-wing reformer. I’ve got a copy of his book at home, “From Social State to Minimal State”. He has championed market reforms, lower taxes, and privatising assets. Not the actions of a left-winger.

  14. roger nome 14

    Tim-

    He may be right-wing, but Denmark is still far to the left of most other developed countries (and that’s what we’re discussing here – the country, not its leader).

  15. Billy 15

    Steve,

    Have you stopped pretending that what we have now is any way a probationary period except in name?

  16. roger nome 16

    And what Billy? The point is that, under Labour’s Employment Relations Act, an employee could be gotten rid of if it’s not economical to have them. National wants to allow employers to get rid of employees if they refuse to do unpaid work, refuse the employer’s sexual advances etc … The only thing this law will do is create injustices, all for the sake of saving a few dollars in legal costs for bad employers.

    Like the Employment Contracts Act, and “work choices” in Australia, this law is going to come back to bite the Torries in the arse come election time – and they will deserve it.

  17. Billy 18

    The point is that, under Labour’s Employment Relations Act, an employee could be gotten rid of if it’s not economical to have them.

    How was that ever the point? And who decided it was the point?

    Probationary periods are not about making it easy to get rid of employees if the employer can’t afford them.

    I say the sky is blue and Roger wants to argue that it’s not because whales are mammals.

  18. but whales are mammals.

  19. DS 20

    Billy says the sky is blue, and that’s why wales shouldn’t be protected.

    It’s beside the point Billy. Your argument is semantic and redundant in the wider debate.

  20. Tim Ellis 21

    What do you think constitutes being a left-wing or a right-wing country, roger? How would you define that? Is it existing income tax rates, or the direction that income tax rates are heading in? Is it the level of social service provision, or the direction that social services are heading in? How do international alliances fall into the mix?

    When were you last in Denmark, Roger? I was in Copenhagen earlier in the year and despite the cold the Danes seem to be pretty happy with their government moving them further to the right. They also earn twice as much as we do, conduct about 70% of their trade within the EU, a free-trade zone. They have probably the most flexible labour market in the EU, and the most educated workforce. Unlike New Zealand their industry is predominantly mid-sized companies. They have very high income tax threshholds (that is, you have to be earning a fairly high income before you pay income tax), and, wait for it, have about a trillion dollars in private pension plans, where contributions are fully tax deductible.

  21. Billy 22

    DS,

    To be brutally honest, I am no longer sure what the argument is.

    My point was that we do not have a probationary period in anything but name under the present legislation.

    DS may think this is semantic but I was calling Steve on this part of his post:

    we already have provision for probation periods…

    Roger Nome’s argument appears to be that an employer can terminate an employee’s employment during a probationary period if you can’t afford to pay them. The first problem is that this bears no relationship to my point. And the second problem is that the position is exactly the same whether or not the employee is in or outside a probationary period.

    And Steve, whales are not mammals. They are insects.

  22. Tim Ellis 23

    roger wrote:

    And what Billy? The point is that, under Labour’s Employment Relations Act, an employee could be gotten rid of if it’s not economical to have them.

    But getting rid of somebody who is uneconomical is the definition of redundancy, isn’t it? It’s got nothing to do with a probationary period, which is defined by a person’s work performance. The law doesn’t currently allow employers to avoid normal process in a probationary period.

    A proper probationary period would allow employers to circumvent normal process to dismiss an employee for poor work performance. Any other definition of a probationary period is just a sham.

    Now you can argue whether or not probationary periods are good things or bad things, but let’s not pretend that we have them now.

  23. DS 24

    Tim – income inequality (or lack of) is the chief means of measuring where a country sits on the left to right spectrum. If there’s high income redistribution there will will low inequality (left wing – i.e. Denmark) if there’s little income redistribution there will be high income inequality (right wing – i.e. the US).

    Here are the official stats for you:

    fiordiliji.sourceoecd.org/pdf/fact2006pdf/10-03-02.pdf

  24. roger nome 25

    Not sure how my user name and internet address were changed there (it’s been comming up as “DS” and some other guy’s email)

  25. DS 26

    billy – it’s semantics – If your definition of a probationary period is “i can fire my employee for not giving me head, and get away with it” – then who cares? It fucked the Torries in Aus, and it’s going to do the same to your beloved National Party as well.

  26. Billy 27

    Roger Nome/DS,

    Not for the first time, I am having real trouble understanding what it is that you are on about.

    I am saying that it is not true to say (as Steve did) that we presently have probationary periods. We do not because it is just a different name for the employment outside a probationary period. All of the same obligations apply.

    Do you understand and concede this?

  27. roger nome 28

    “I am having real trouble understanding what it is that you are on about.”

    No billy – you’re being a disingenuous time-waster. It’s a wee bit like debating red-baiter.

    It really depends on how you define “probationary period” your definition is “no recourse for employees to natural justice” – i don’t think that’s what a probationary period necessarily has to be, and i think Labour’s was far more balanced and just than National’s looks set to be.

  28. Billy 29

    I really do not know why, but I will try again.

    Forget about labels. Let’s call one set of circumstances Circumstance A and the other Circumstance B.

    In Circumstance A (which might happen to be during the first 90 days of employment) an employer must: a. have a good substantive reason for terminatng an employee’s employment; and b. follow a fair procedure for terminating that employee’s employment.

    In Circumstance B an employer must: a. have a good substantive reason for terminatng an employee’s employment; and b. follow a fair procedure for terminating that employee’s employment.

    Now, aside from their names, you tell me: what’s the difference between them?

  29. Lampie 30

    Question about this fire at will bill (english)

    Since we in a sense employ MPs, can we fire them after a 3 month trial instead of a 3 year period?

  30. Paddy 31

    Bicker bicker bicker bicker… At least you both think like politicians!

  31. Quoth the Raven 32

    Billy – You don’t seem to get that in circumstance A the employee has recourse if they think that their dismissal is unfair, in circumstance B, however, they don’t. Simple. And if there isn’t any recourse possible then there is no reason for the employer to have a good substantive reason and no fair process. Get it.

  32. Billy 33

    QtR,

    You have missed my point entirely. Read it again. And they say righties are thick.

    All I am trying to say is that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE UNDER THE CURRENT LAW BETWEEN PROBATIONARY AND NON PROBATIONARY PERIODS.

    And that, therefore, it is silly to pretend that we already have them.

  33. roger nome 34

    Your semantic point was understood long ago Billy. I doubt it impacts on anyone’s opinion of the 90 day Bill though.

  34. Quoth the Raven 35

    Billy – I assumed that by circumstance A, or whatever that you meant the current situation and by B you meant what it would be and hence thought you were arguing that nothing would change. Reading back over your other comments I get what you mean now.

  35. Billy 36

    If you undertood it long ago, RN, why were you so utterly incapable of expressing that?

    Are you stupid or something?

  36. ianmac 37

    Just as unclear is the question of what form the Education National Testing will take. On one hand we were warned during the Election. They could argue that this needs no further discussion because you all knew. But of course the actual meaning could be anything at all. Remember that pansy Wong was reported as saying that it was off the table because there were already so many forms of testing, but…..watch this space.

  37. Akldnut 38

    Billy:  “I” got you first time, no need to go on about stupid lefties cause the same could equally be said of some posters on KB or on whaleoils blog.

    BTW you could have articulated it a bit better – something like

    QTR take the 90 day “Fire at will” out of the picture, I’m talking about the current set up”.

    Prodationary period under labour
    an employer must: a. have a good substantive reason for terminatng an employee’s employment; and b. follow a fair procedure for terminating that employee’s employment.

    Full time employee after Prodationary period under labour
    an employer must: a. have a good substantive reason for terminatng an employee’s employment; and b. follow a fair procedure for terminating that employee’s employment.

    Same rules – different name for different periods

  38. Akldnut 39

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.  WTF???

  39. Tim Ellis 40

    roger nome there does seem to be a lot of commentary about saying that there already is a probationary period in the current law. You affirmed this.

    What is your definition of a probationary period? Is it a time where an employee’s skills can be tested and assessed, and see if they are able to learn and perform the job requirements?

  40. Quoth the Raven 41

    Alkdnut – I think the word with whale and oil together brings on moderation.

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