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Probation and trial periods

“Probation” periods: Not much effect on your rights as an employee

What is “probation”?

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 67

You and your employer can agree that you’ll serve a period of probation to allow your employer to assess whether you’re suitable for the job. If so, this must be recorded in your written employment agreement.

During probation your performance will be watched particularly closely, and your ability to do the job will be reviewed at the end of the probation period. While you’re on probation your employer should tell you exactly what standards you’re required to meet.

How long can a probation period last for?

There’s no maximum length for probation periods. Instead, this will depend on what is reasonable in your particular situation.

What are my rights if I’m on probation?

You’ll generally have the same legal rights and protections as if you were a permanent employee. If there are any problems during the probation period, your employer must follow a fair disciplinary or dismissal process.

As with permanent employees, you’ll have the right to take a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority if you’re dismissed at the end of the probation period (see the chapter “Resolving employment problems”). However, in deciding whether the reason for your dismissal and the process your employer followed were fair, the Authority may hold the employer to a lower standard than if you were a permanent employee.

By contrast with a “probation” period, an employee that’s on a “trial” period can’t bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal (see the next section).

Did this answer your question?

Starting and leaving a job

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal information, advice and education about employment law issues.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment


The Employment website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment publishes a range of publications on employment relations and minimum rights at work.

Free phone: 0800 20 90 20, for general enquiries about employment relations, pay and holidays.

For translated employment information go to www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/rights-and-responsibilities/minimum-rights-of-employees-translations/#minimum

Reporting migrant exploitation


Make a complaint to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment about migrant exploitation with this online form.

If you need help completing the form or would like to speak to an interpreter, call 0800 200 088 between 8:00am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. You will be connected with an interpreter after you say the name of the language you speak.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Te Kauae Kaimahi


Phone: (04) 385 1334
Email: info@nzctu.org.nz

The NZCTU is the umbrella body for affiliated unions covering every job and industry in New Zealand. It can provide information about which union may cover the type of work you do.

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective


A nationwide organisation run by sex workers for sex workers. They provide information and services for people who are doing sex work or thinking about doing sex work.

Phone (04) 382 8791
Mobile and media inquiries: 027 496 0700
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz

Migrant worker organisations

Union Network of Migrants – UNEMIG


Part of FIRST Union

Phone: 0800 863477

Migrant Workers Association


Email: help@migrantworkers.org.nz

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