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Thin end of the wedge to get thicker?

Written By: - Date published: 11:38 am, June 10th, 2013 - 54 comments
Categories: capitalism, workers' rights - Tags: ,

The Nats’ attacks on workers rights and conditions started with the “fire at will” (90 day probation) Bill. No surprise to find pressure from employers to double the duration:

Union alarm at talk of longer work trial

Trade unionists have labelled a suggestion by the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association to double the current 90-day trial period for employees as “disgraceful”. …

EMA manager of employment services David Lowe said it was hard to manage employees with fluctuating performance, and extending the 90-day trial to 180 days would allow employers to identify potential issues with workers.

If the Nats buy in to this there will be no end to the process. 180 days won’t be long enough, better double it to a full year. Two years. Do away with employment security altogether. All in the name of stimulating the economy of course.


54 comments on “Thin end of the wedge to get thicker?”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I’m in the position right now where one of my team members has been employed for a job that he doesn’t really have the skills to do. We’re not entirely sure how he made it through the interview process, but he did.

    If we had realised during the 90 day period that he didn’t have the required skills, we would have showed him the door at that point. It is now however past the 90 day period, so we must follow the normal performance management process. At the moment, this particular employee is managing to perform well enough to avoid a more formal performance monitoring process.

    This is definitely as it should be, and I see no reason why we, or anyone else, should need the duration extended out to 180 days. It is time consuming (and hence expensive) to remove someone from the business if they’re under-performing, and the process itself also must be carefully managed so as to avoid potential grievance etc claims. But that’s our fault for hiring someone that we shouldn’t have hired, and not properly monitoring them in the first 90 days to see if they could do the job. The employee should not be punished for our mistakes.

    • Shona 1.1

      Here’s a thought Lanth, how about your business ‘trains ‘ this hapless individual so they do have the skills required. Oh and he/ she got thru’ the interview process because the interview process is inadequate. Any chance that it will be reviewed? I doubt it NZ businesses don’t bother with questioning their processes or training anyone any more. So of course people lie to get through an employment system that is stacked against them all the way.

      • Macro 1.1.1


      • Lanthanide 1.1.2

        Because actually it turns out, my employer is not a university, and it is not our job to train someone for 3 years how to be a software developer. We employ people to contribute to the business, if they can’t contribute to the business, they shouldn’t be employed.

        Also, as I said above, the employee is currently performing at a level where a formal monitoring process is not required. We have been assisting him and modifying our normal work to accommodate him, but he still isn’t performing at a level we would expect from someone in his position with his length of time at the company.

        “Any chance that it will be reviewed?”

        Yes, we’ve discussed it and have made changes.

        “So of course people lie to get through an employment system that is stacked against them all the way.”

        In this case I don’t believe there was any deliberate lying involved, although I wasn’t present during the interview process so I don’t really know for sure.

        • Macro

          So just like every other business yours just wants to take, take, take, and never give anything back. Businesses have a duty to train – yes even software developers.
          If the young person whom you employed had a relevant qualification – and that wasn’t up to scratch – then that is something else, and maybe you need to look at your selection criteria. But having made a bad choice it really is the ethical duty to make the best of a bad choice.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Precarious short term employment many years ago was “seagulling” on the wharf, maybe you got picked maybe you did not. But in the 50s, 60s, to mid 70s there was a hell of better chance of full time employment on “Award” wages and conditions all over New Zealand.

    Security of and more hours per week/day are a persistent need for many workers now. Employment agencies and contract working increase the modern day precarious work ranks. The trial period puts downward pressure on wages via management by stress. Small business people are under stress too in some cases from the banks etc, but stuff ’em if they think exploiting workers is the way out.

  3. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 3

    The problem Helen Kelly has is that she told us the world would end when the 90 day period came in. Employees would be getting buggered by employers on the High Street.

    And, the truth is, it’s not really causing any problems.

    • woodpecker 3.1

      If that’s true, why the need to double it to 180 days?

      • Polish Pride 3.1.1

        because often employers are so busy just trying to survive in the current economic climate they don’t have the time or resources to determine whether an individual is performing as he needs to be. It is also not to give them more time to get rid of an individual, but you might be at the 6 or 8 week mark before you realize there is a problem. Then you have to provide feedback and assistance to see if the problem can be fixed. Many times 3 months just isn’t long enough, 6 would be better for both the employer and the employee in many cases. In the instance where the proper steps have been taken and the employee still can’t do the job then the employer should be able to sit them down and say we have done this, that and the other and its still not happening. I’m sorry but we have to let you go.
        Despite what many on here will think, employers would rather the employee work out and be a good fit. They really do not want to have to go back to recruitment. It is a time consuming costly exercise. Resources are far better spent elsewhere, going back to recruitment is for most employers not an attractive option.

        • Colonial Viper

          If an employer or manager hasn’t stayed awake for the first 90 days then they deserve to go out of business.

          Also this measure shows how ‘No Idea’ the National Party is currently at.

          • Polish Pride

            It’s not that they are not awake it is that they are stretched beyond capacity.
            The second part is true but this in my experience would actually benefit both employers and employees in he current economic climate. They might be bereft of ideas but that doesn’t make this a bad policy.

            • Colonial Viper

              How on earth can you advocate for a policy which gives employers far more powers and gives employees only insecurity as being a good policy?

              The poor “current economic climate” has been caused by people like you who do not understand that job insecurity destroys economic growth.

              That tells me that you do not give a fuck about the balance of power between employees and employers. Or if you do, you prefer that the hand of employers are always strengthened as a priority.

              It’s not that they are not awake it is that they are stretched beyond capacity.

              Rubbish. That’s employer laziness and incompetence that you are excusing.

              If business is really that busy then why aren’t workers being better paid?

      • Polish Pride 3.1.2

        We use the 90 day rule. We have hired about 10 people on it since it came legislation. 1 of those 10 people didn’t make it. We did what we were supposed to do but they hadn’t come up to speed enough. They were let go because of risk. The 90 days was coming up and we had a choice.
        Let them go before the 90 days
        Take the risk with them and have to go through a lengthy process of warnings and BS if they didn’t cut the mustard.
        Now here’s the kicker. If it was 180 days we would have been happy to take more time to develop the person and try to get them up to speed. They would probably still be with us. 90days in business is a very short time, often too short.
        Without the 90 day rule we would have avoided hiring unless we really really had to.
        I have been both an employee (for many years) and an employer. Many on here have it dead wrong on employer motivations on things like this. It might surprise many but employers never hire someone not wanting them to work out and would rather help someone get up to speed rather than can them and go back to the recruitment process which is very time consuming and takes resource away from doing other activities to progress the business.

        • Colonial Viper

          I’m sure you won’t mind it if your work site becomes fully unionised then.

          The union will be able to help you properly assessing, mentoring and training workers, since you seem to be having so much trouble yourself, being “overstretched” or whatever example you used.

          As an employer I’m not surprised that you like the idea of making sure that all your new employees remain precarious as long as possible.

          It is cruel and unnecessary.

          Frankly, we’d be better off with employers with a better attitude than yours. The real job creation has to come from government.

          • Polish Pride

            I have to be honest the idea of my site becoming fully unionized scares the shit out of me simply because they have the ability to cripple business. I trust them about as much as you trust employers. Besides if they really cared about workers, their goal would be to free them from having to work (ok lets not go there this time)

            as for your last comment soooo wrong. 6th year been to hell and back. Never been paid a cent. Always put staff first. Company breaking even so paying staff as much as we can. no one on less than $15 per hour low staff turnover, good culture, Staff will get increases as revenue improves still before I get paid. Good flexibility with staff personal problems (after all everyone has em) Plenty of opportunity for staff to advance, learn new skills take on new roles. Even had a staff member turn down a job paying 40K more in another different role elsewhere because she didn’t want to leave.

            Job Creation comes neither from Govt or Business. Job Creation comes from the working class and middle class.
            They are the ones that spend their money and allow businesses and an economy to grow. Employ policy that reduces wages and you will struggle to grow your economy as they will have less to spend with businesses. Employ policy that reduces wages and your tax take will be lower and Govt will not be able to employ as many people, who again are mostly middle class, and who again spend their money with businesses and so on.

            I have picked up one thing we can improve on though from your comments. We can let them know that we want them to be here, and that if they have any issues or questions or if there’s anything they are unsure of, just ask. No one should ever get in trouble for asking questions. It served me very well in my career.

            • Colonial Viper

              But you can’t create rules for a frakking country based on the experience and organisational culture of your one frakking business.

              What do we do, clone you off 500,000 times so you can be boss of all the other employees around the country?

              And you seem plenty fine with holding all the power as the employer, as the wise old trusty boss.

              as for your last comment soooo wrong. 6th year been to hell and back. Never been paid a cent. Always put staff first.

              FFS so you got your halo intact and shiny, but I’m sorry, when you look at the behaviour of big employers like Air NZ, Talleys and Subway, you are in the moral minority mate.

              Keeping people in precarious employment is absolutely wrong and the fact is that you are on the wrong side of this discussion, despite your self styled halo.

              • Polish Pride

                Ahhh but I’m pretty sure having an end goal of freeing all workers from having to work in order to survive puts me back on the right side and the Unions at best somewhere in the middle.

                I’ve always thought it would be far easier if I could be just installed as a dictator than trying to change the world from where I am now. 🙂

                On a more serious not I’d have instant respect for unions and would encourage all my workers to join if they would actively and vigorously lobby govts to a system that frees workers from having to work yet still provides the tings that we all need and want.

                • Colonial Viper

                  as creditable as that may be, it reinforces my point that we cannot design the laws and regulations of a whole nation based on the example of your management ethos and practices.

                  I’ve always thought it would be far easier if I could be just installed as a dictator than trying to change the world from where I am now. 🙂

                  Even a dictator needs a semblance of legitimacy if he/she is to survive in the long run.

    • vto 3.2

      And vice versa of course, with the proviso that having no 90 day trial improves the position of people less well off. Not that that matters to people such as you eh…. it is all about the well off.

      You guys always act against your own best interests like the gormless fools you are. Example – paying the low paid a living wage rather than a minimum wage (read slave wage) would increase the amount of money being spent in the domestic economy and thus boost all business.

      • Kevin Welsh 3.2.1

        The problem vto, is that a lot – but not all – employers see their hired help as a comodity, and treat it accordingly.

    • Poission 3.3

      The 90 day rule has caused problems for employers,by making it more difficult to hire both skilled and unskilled staff as they are less likely to tradeoff security (tenure) for insecurity.

      Additionally the insecurity from having high rates of temporary workers is an impediment for increased productivity,


      Bridges fits in well with the Troika ( key english and Joyce) he is the thick end.

    • Unionist 3.4

      Department of Labour research shows one in five workers hired under the 90 day period is sacked. That’s a very high ratio.

      The reality is very few of these people are in unions (unions tend to have collective agreements so 90 fire at will clauses don’t apply) so have no voice when things go wrong.

      I know from personal experience that it’s more common than you’d think, and people who are sacked under it are very unwilling to go public for obvious reasons.

  4. keith ross 4

    the worse thing about the 90 day trial is that it makes movement in the work force a risky business. One does not know if the employer is going to do the right thing or not. This means that if you have a crap boss or job it is a gamble to toss it in for a new job,locking workers into whatever they can get. The same thing was my experience living in the USA, people were to scared to change jobs because they may lose benefits(medical) locking them into their present job. Freedom to change employers should be a right that is protected not undermined. Perhaps well off people or well educated people do not experience this but it is one of the “non measured” effects of this law. making it 180 days is ridiculous and further undermines the ability of the worker to get a fair deal in the market. A great example of legislating the scales in favor of the already well off.(most employers are bettor off than the people they are hiring)

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    You guys are missing one of the most important aspects of this legislation. It dissuades existing long serving staff from waka jumping to another employer due to reasons of insecurity in a new job.

    that reduction in labour mobility is a crucial cost saving for employers not wanting to take on new staff but also not wanting to deal with the costs of staff turning over.

    • fatty 5.1

      true…and that is also the reason why unemployment over 5% is also wanted (govt fantasy figures, not real unemployment). The last thing employers want is employee choice (to use a neoliberal buzzword).

      Coming from National, this de-powering of workers is unsurprising…but what is Labour’s stance. Does Labour have a policy of full employment? Anything less is a disgrace.

      • Rhinocrates 5.1.1

        I think it has something to do with being “realistic”. Ie., making sure that they have the very best deck chairs at the bottom of the North Atlantic rather than sailing into New York Second Class.

    • Te Reo Putake 5.2

      CV, it also discourages new workers from joining the union, if there is one at the workplace, which is another cost saving for the employer.

  6. Winston Smith 6

    I hope the Labour dredge up more examples like they did when the 90 day was brought in, most amusing when it was discovered the examples just happened (pure coincidence of course) to be member of the youth wing of the Labour party

    About the only interesting thing they had on red alert…

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      [citation needed]

      And, no, Kiwblog and Whaleoil are not valid references.

    • QoT 6.2

      Holy shit. People in New Zealand are, like, connected to each other! It must be a conspiracy, there’s no other way to explain how people might know each other in a country of 4 million.

  7. infused 7

    To be perfectly honest, the 90 day trail has been the best thing that’s ever happened in business in along time.

    However, I don’t think there is a reason to extend it passed 90 days. If you are on top of your management process, issues will crop up quickly.

    I also wouldn’t call this action disgraceful. I’m sure there is the odd few that can slip through, which is why this should be a small business law only.

    It’s costly to change out staff. I just gave the biggest pay rises I’ve ever given to keep staff this year.

    • framu 7.1

      considering you could use trial periods pre 90 day law – what made things so different for you once the law came into effect?

      • infused 7.1.1

        Where is the law stating that before the 90 day trail period was implemented?

        • framu

          well it doesnt exist now does it 🙂

          AFAIK it used to be completely legal to specify a non-binding trail period for new employees as long as it was written into the contract that was agreed to.

          I know my boss used (and still uses) them for all new and unproven employees. (and not the 90 day one either)

          The only difference was you had to give a reason that was open to being challenged if you didnt keep them on

          • fatty

            framu, you made the mistake of thinking that infused might want to back up the claim that the “90 day trail has been the best thing that’s ever happened in business in along time”

            The best you can hope for is some vague comment, which in reality translates as “I’m a shit boss” (see 7.2.1 below)

            • infused

              How do I even need to back that up? It’s an opinion.

              How am I a shit boss? I’ve only ever written it in to one contract and never fired anyone with it.

              • fatty

                How do I even need to back that up? It’s an opinion.

                Well done, you’ve just backed it up by admitting its only an opinion. The way you wrote it originally suggested you might have some reasoning behind the statement

                How am I a shit boss?

                You’re a shit boss because you hire shit employees, even when unemployment is at an historically high level. That shows that non-shit workers don’t want to be involved with you…or am I missing something?

              • framu

                yes its an opinion – but it seems its an opinion based on ignorance of employment law.

                your claiming its the best thing thats happened in ages – ive have pointed out that you didnt need the 90 day law to start with as there were already trial periods at your disposal.

                As with all new laws passed by anyone, its helpful to look at whats changed – not what its promoters claim it does

                so… is it still the best thing to happen in ages? or has a little bit of knowledge changed your opinion?

          • Unionist

            Exactly. The law always allowed for a fair dismissal in the first 90 days. All that’s changed in the law is employers are allowed to dismiss unfairly and can’t be challenged on it.

            • infused

              They can be challenged on it.

              • Colonial Viper

                On what grounds?

                • Jim Davis

                  Only on direct human rights grounds if they’re stupid enough to say ‘you’re fired because you’re a Jew’ or similar. If they just say ‘you’re fired’ and don’t give a reason they don’t have to provide one. Or if they say ‘you’re fired because you’re not performing’ that’s okay too, because they don’t have to prove or quantify non-performance so no one can challenge it. It really is a shit of a law.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      To be perfectly honest, the 90 day trail has been the best thing that’s ever happened in business in along time.

      Sad if that’s really the case. In summary it describes how poorly National has performed at improving small and medium business growth in this country.

      • infused 7.2.1

        I don’t think you realise how big a deal it was trying to get rid of shit employees.

        • McFlock

          Much, much easier than getting rid of a shit employer.

          So what was the difficulty for you: giving clear expectations and feedback of employee performance; or that fiddly “good faith” lah-di-dah pc-gone-mad hogwash?

        • Colonial Viper

          I don’t think you realise how big a deal it was trying to get rid of shit employees.

          Oh yeah, it was sometimes a problem, some employees would raise a PG on leaving in the hope of getting an extra $2K to $3K pay out for no reason.

          But the solution to an unfair practice is not to can due process entirely and institute more unfair practices.

        • framu

          considering youve demonstrated a woeful lack of knowledge regarding employment law – im not that surprised

  8. fambo 8

    Like other right wing organisations attacking workers etc, the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has no self defined boundaries. The only one it knows is the fence put up to keep it from running riot. The present government is cut from the same cloth.

  9. georgecom 9

    If the EMA are consistent, what they really want is fire at will. Any day of the week an employer can sack a worker for any reason.

    “EMA manager of employment services David Lowe said it was hard to manage employees with fluctuating performance, and extending the 90-day trial to 180 days would allow employers to identify potential issues with workers”.

    Thats a really weak justification for extending the sacking period. If ‘fluctuating performance’, I imagine employers would want to sack a person AT THE POINT the performance fluctuated, be it 60, 90, 180 or 360 days. That being the case, just come out and state as such honestly and clearly rather than use some weak excuse.

  10. George D 10

    I’d be surprised if the National Government did this. It’s bad politics.

    (Yes, it’s awful, but that’s not why they’d refrain from it.)

  11. millsy 11

    Hi infused (and others),

    Just wondering if you see your workers as expendable beasts of burden to be thrown away?

    (real name withheld)

    • Macro 11.1

      Of course they do! That’s why its called an “H R” Human Resource.

      Resource according to the online dictionary is “A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function”.

      It used to be a “personal department” but that had the unfortunate connotation that you were actually dealing with PEOPLE.

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  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago