In 2009 the Employment Relations Act was amended to enable employers to use 90 day trial periods for new employees. What this means for employers is that an individual’s employment can be ended in that 90 day period without providing a reason and avoiding any risk of a personal grievance. That is, providing the trial period is agreed in the employment agreement prior to the individual commencing work. The intention of this provision was to encourage business to take on new staff.
This sounds like a safe option for employers, and is a useful “get out of jail free” card for when it is obvious a new employee is not a good fit for a role or the business. However, a 90 day trial period should never be an alternative to good pre-employment checking and recruitment processes, for a number of reasons:
90 days isn’t that long – If you speak to many employers, employment problems will often emerge well after the 90 day trial period has expired, especially if new employees are on best behaviour for the duration of the trial period. After this time you are stuck with managing a problem employee, which could have been avoided through a good interview process and background checking.
It can take longer than 90 days to train a new employee – Often it can take 6 months or longer for an employee to demonstrate full competency in a role. By the 90 day mark it may be too early to tell whether the employee will become a fully contributing member of the team, or whether there are significant gaps in their ability to perform well over the longer term.
Damage to employer reputation – Quick and frequent exits and high turnover can ring alarm bells to prospective employees about what it is like to work for a potential employer. This could make it difficult to find talented staff, especially in areas where there is a limited labour market from which to recruit.
Time is precious – In small businesses with limited resources having to spend time recruiting new employees is disruptive enough to operations, let alone having to recruit again shortly after due to a poor recruitment decision.
Past behaviour indicates future behaviour – poor recruitment decisions can be avoided with well designed recruitment processes that ensure you know who you are employing and what you can expect in terms of performance or conduct. There are always the exceptions, but a good result from an employment background check usually means they’ll be a good employee for you too.
Do it right, the first time. A robust recruitment process needn’t be much more time consuming and can actually save you time and frustration later down the track. We recommend that at a minimum you undertake a structured interview process including questions about past performance and specific examples of work, verbal reference checks with past managers/supervisors, and ask to sight originals of any qualifications, licenses, registrations required, as well as photo identification and work visas and permits (if applicable).
For assistance or advice about how to recruit the best person for the job without having to rely on a 90 day trial period clause – call Safe Business Solutions Ltd to avoid the pitfalls of hiring the wrong person! Freephone 0508 424 723.