More concerns aired over 90-day trial laws

More concerns were aired in Parliament's transport and industrial relations committee today over employer-employee power imbalances likely to result from proposed employment law changes.

The committee is considering the Employment Relations (No 2) and Holidays Amendment bills, and as has been the case in the past few weeks, the overriding issue today related to the proposed extension to all businesses of the 90-day trial period.

Submitting on behalf of the 46,000-strong New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), advisor Jock Lawrie said the organisation had made gains over the past 10 years in both the public and private sectors in terms of shaping good relationships between staff and employers.

"Having travelled so far down this road, it is with some considerable sorrow that we find ourselves submitting on the proposals contained in this bill," he said.

Mr Lawrie said the NZNO saw the main provisions of the bill as "corrosive of the productive employment relationship we have worked so hard to secure on behalf of our members".

They were likely to replace a workplace environment involving trust and cooperation to one based on fear and suspicion that workers were not up to the job.

Mr Lawrie said the 90-day laws could also suppress workforce development as laws could be applied to existing employees when they took on different roles, including promotions.

National MP Michael Woodhouse pointed out that would not be the case for employees changing roles within the same organisation.

The Manufacturing and Construction Workers Union said the proposed changes made "an already bad piece of legislation even worse for the working majority in this country".

It pandered to employers who wanted as much control as possible over their staff and to those who were hostile to unions or collectivity.

The New Zealand Tramways Union said one of the main concerns was the potential for employers to use the probationary period as a way to dismiss employees who decided to join a union.

"While no employer would ever admit to this, the reality is that there are some employers in this industry who would certainly use such a provision in law for that purpose."

Federated Farmers dairy sector chairman Lachlan MacKenzie took an opposing view of the laws, which already apply to businesses with less than 20 staff. He said before that was the case he had taken risks and employed people with questionable backgrounds, but that was not the norm with farmers. "An awful lot of people don't take those risks."

Mr MacKenzie said he didn't consider rights were being taken away and that any employers abusing the law should be "run out of town".

"The only way I have good productivity and high standards out of my staff is by treating them with respect and due regard is by helping them achieve good outcomes.

"There are bad employers and bad employees -- we know that -- and the 90-day bill to me allows far more opportunities to happen."

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A ninety day exemption from consequences of decisions, if a principle worthy of making law, should be applied to a much wider range of actives. Perhaps a ninety day exemption for any marriage, or for the election of political figures or maybe any purchase, all could be returned or expunged up to ninety days after the act with no cost. Clearly, if these business leaders need a ninety day exemption from consequences of their decision to hire, then we should have some serious doubt about their opinion in this matter or in any serious matter relevant to the just functioning of a civilized and democratic society. If they can't trust their decisions why should we? This is about control of labor and the use of a threat of dismissal rather than any business philosophy. Imagine if they applied the same principle to their business practices with other businesses. "You know that order for nine-hundred units of gizmos I put in last month and you have been busily making to specification, well, yea, I just had another think on the matter and I would like to cancel that order without consequences." Yea, right!

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It is nonesense like that of spike 91nz in the heads of NZ cictizens that has lead us inton our present predicament.
The whole pupose of a 90 day probation period, is to give those who don't 'shine' at an interview an opportunity to show that they really can cut the mustard.
Many people do not have the skills to impress at interview, but once in the workplace often excell; and justify the management decision to give a marginal 'interviewee' an opportunity.
During this period the individual may realise that he/she has also made the wrong choice, but now has a little more confidence to face another interview.
Closed ideologically deluded minds like that of spike91 of course, would never benefit from such a probation period.

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I am infavor of getting the job without the threat of termination after a brief (two week) trial period. The 90 day eximption is purley for business interests. If you get the job then you should be able to rely upon that and proceed to shine without the threat that failure to shine is cause of termination. Being competent is the threshold of work. Shine is extra and laudable. Let them hire you or not but make them as responsible for their decisions as they would expect from any other business partner. If you agree to the job they expect you to do it and not change your mind half way through or change the conditions unilaterally. This law has no benefit for workers and every benefit for the business interest.

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Couldn't agree more with Bob. As a recruiter with more than 15 years experience and representing the interests of both job applicants and employees, we often see 2 scenarios, kiwis who don't present themselves in their best light and applicants who can do the job but just don't work well in a particular environment. To try and equate people to purchases of things illustrates a lack of understanding of the many complexities of human behaviour and personality. Trying to present employers as an all powerful group also misses the point that small business employers are people too, under pressure to keep business afloat and therefore may be feeling isolated and vulnerable. They can be subjected to abuse by employees which I have also seen. Amazing how one new person can change the dynamic of a small company, both positively and negatively. No reasonable employer takes the time to hire someone, wanting them to fail. So it's good we get to offer small business owners a tool to painlessly remove problem employees as they often don't have the support of "HR" or "legal" to do this for them.

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