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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 so your employer can 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. The length of the probation period has to be set out in your employment agreement.

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 process, and give you the opportunity to respond to and remedy their concerns before a dismissal process.

You’ll have the right to take a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal to the ERA if you’re dismissed at the end of the probation period. For more on personal grievances and how to bring one, see: “Resolving employment problems”.

In contrast to a probation period, an employee that’s on a trial period can’t bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

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 you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

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

Website: www.employment.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 20 90 20
Starting a job: www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/
Leaving a job: www.employment.govt.nz/ending-employment/

Te Kauae Kaimahi/
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Te Kauae Kaimahi 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.

Website: www.union.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
Phone: (04) 385 1334

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is 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.

Website: www.nzpc.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
Phone: 04 382 8791
Instagram: www.instagram.com/_nzpc/

Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG)

UNEMIG or Union Network of Migrants is an association of migrant workers within FIRST Union.

Website: www.unemig.org.nz
Email: unemig@firstunion.org.nz 
Phone: 0800 863 477

Migrant Workers Association

The Migrant Workers Association NZ fights for migrant workers’ rights and against injustice and exploitation in the workplace.

Website: migrantworkers.org.nz
Email: help@migrantworkers.org.nz
Phone: 0800 863 477
Facebook: www.facebook.com/migrantworkersassociationaotearoa/

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