Recognising Reality

Bill English has released a tiny bit of National’s policy relating to a probation period for employees…

The policy, which will apply to businesses with fewer than 20 workers, allows employers to dismiss staff in the first three months without risking a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal.

I can see why National is leaving it’s policy releases until the last minute. Anything, no matter how insignificant is being met with howls of exaggerated outrage by Labour’s proxy campaign assistants – the Unions, and Labour’s hysterical labelling of the policy as a “Charter of Abuse” is such a silly over-reaction.

The policy to formalise what businesses already do – getting rid of unsuitable staff – is probably a sensible move. It recognises reality, some people might seem fine in their interview, but don’t fit into your team, or for any number of reasons just don’t work out. It cuts both ways because some employees leave if they don’t like the job and employers can’t sue them for the costs of employing them or the lost opportunity if they had found someone else. 

It’s fairer on employees and employers that there is a formalised probationary period. At least both parties know what they are walking into. Some employers won’t have a probationary period, some will. Let’s face it, I’ve had a few jobs where the employer made it pretty clear that I was on trial, and that’s just common sense. Why should an employer be stuck with someone unsuitable for the job?

Some employers will behave unfairly towards employees, no amount of legislation will prevent this as there are ways around the law, and the few who do miss-treat employees find themselves in employment court which is as it should be. But these bad employers are a minority, the majority will on balance attempt to be fair with their employees.

On the other side there are also a small minority of employees who are either unreliable or clearly unsuitable for a particular job and business is not a government run welfare agency and they shouldn’t be forced to continue to employ an unsuitable or hostile employee.

No system is perfect and this sensible tinkering with employment law should not be written off just because Labour has mobilised Unions to shriek and scream their heads off.

Here’s a photo of the most hard working Minister Auckland’s ever had, burning the Employment Contracts Act (which by and large has managed to remain intact through Labour’s term in power)

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