Employers have repeatedly told the Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA) that 90-day trial periods are a valuable and useful asset to have when employing staff and they want them to remain.
Surveys of EMA members clearly indicates that many companies have employed staff that they would not normally consider because of the 90-day trial period.
The Employment Relations Amendment Bill looks to restrict the 90-day trial period to employers with fewer than 20 staff. For employers with 20 employees or more, they will have the choice of using probationary periods if they wish to use some type of trial period. However, under a probationary period an employee can choose to initiate a personal grievance claim if they feel they are unfairly dismissed.
“Our members have repeatedly said they have given someone a chance because of this law and it’s worked for them and the employee. They say the 90-day trial period gives them the ability to work with the employee to ensure they are right for the role and this has usually been successful,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
“They have gone on to say, that without this flexibility, they would not have given the person in question a chance. This is because the person may have no employment history, may have not have presented well at the interview or may not have been an obvious choice,” says Mr Campbell.
Employers have often referred to using a six week time frame for on-boarding new employees to ensure they demonstrate their ability to get to work on time, arrange secure transport, able to organise family care if needed, along with ability to perform the role required. They say that having new staff locked in as employees with no 90 day provisions is simply too higher risk in some cases.
“The premise of the Bill is that employers with fewer staff need the flexibility offered under the 90-day trial period, yet our member feedback shows that employers with more than 20 staff are keen users of this as well. In fact, employers who are large enough to have their own in-house human resources team are using the trial period. This strongly indicates to us that this is not something that only small businesses value.
“If we are wanting to enable a productive and vibrant economy, then businesses need flexibility to manage their staff requirements. It must be noted that employing people is an expensive exercise and uses a lot of resources. Therefore companies do not actively seek to throw money away by firing staff at will,” says Mr Campbell.
Submissions of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill closed today.