90-day probation may spread

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The Government may extend legislation allowing a 90-day probation period for new workers at small firms to cover all employers.

It introduced its controversial Employment Relations Amendment Bill to Parliament under urgency yesterday and expects it to pass before Christmas.

The legislation provides for a three-month probation period for new workers in businesses that employ fewer than 20 people. As drafted, workers can be dismissed without written notice.

The amendment bill is only four pages long and was given to Opposition MPs late on Wednesday night.

A nine-page explanatory note attached says: "Extending the [90-day trial period] initiative to all employers would have a positive effect on labour market efficiency. Consideration could be given to evaluating the outcomes of this legislative change with a view to extending it to cover all employers in future."

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the Government was open to such an extension.

"At this stage we are focusing on the small and medium-sized enterprises because they are struggling with compliance," she said.

"Like anything, we'll see how it works out and we are always open to ideas."



The Dominion Post