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Communtity Law Manual | Starting & leaving a job | Probation and trial periods

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).

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