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Communtity Law Manual | Starting & leaving a job | “Trial” periods up to 90 days: You can’t challenge an unfair dismissal

Probation and trial periods

“Trial” periods up to 90 days: You can’t challenge an unfair dismissal

When can my employer include a trial period if I start a job?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 67A, 67B

If you’re a new employee and your employer has fewer than 20 staff, your agreement can provide that you’ll serve a trial period of up to 90 days. If you’re fired during or at the end of the trial you won’t have the right to bring a personal grievance or any other legal action to challenge the firing.

For the trial arrangement to be valid, it has to be put in writing in your employment agreement. The employer also can’t put you on a trial if you’ve worked for them before.

What are my rights if I’m on a trial period?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 67A, 67B

If your employer does decide to fire you, they must give you notice before the end of your trial period (regardless of whether your last day will be before the end of the trial period, or on the date that it ends, or after it ends). If the trial arrangement isn’t valid, or if you’re told of the dismissal only after the trial period has ended, then you’ll be entitled to bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal, the same as any permanent employee.

If there are any problems during the trial, you can use the free mediation and other services provided through the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, the same as other employees. Also, although you can’t bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal, you can bring a personal grievance on any other grounds that might apply in your case – for example, discrimination or sexual harassment (see the chapter “Resolving employment problems”).

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