Editorial: Balancing the ledger

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 09/12/2013

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Views on the 90-day job trial legislation are fairly clear-cut.

Those affected by it are either strongly supportive (employers and some staff) or highly critical (unions and dismissed staff).

Both sides can use just-released statistics to support their arguments.

From the employers: Last year they employed more than 131,000 people on a trial period, and nearly a third of bosses who did so said they would not have if not for the legislation that allows them to sack workers without reason within the first three months.

They say it gives them a safety net.

And that supports National's argument that more jobs would be created.

From the unions: The fact that 27 per cent of employers dismissed staff within the 90 days shows that workers are being exploited.

And that echoes the warnings of Labour.

The figures, published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, deserve further investigation.

Surely an employer wouldn't hire someone with the intention of sacking them at the end of three months. Why spend that time training them?

And if they were halfway decent workers, why sack them only to start the process again?

Perhaps there are longer term game plans in keeping wages at low starting rates or avoiding holiday pay, but that seems extreme.

But how come 27 per cent of bosses sacked workers?

Does that indicate unrealistic expectations, or perhaps poor recruiting. Does it indicate a labour force with some inherent employment issues - that some employees are just not willing or ready for work?

What were the real reasons such a large percentage of workers were sacked?

And that is where the law may need some tinkering. It's not fair that an employer doesn't have to give a reason why someone was fired.

Being sacked can have a profound effect on a young person's prospects for the future, and they could learn by knowing why.

The legislation does seem to be working - it just needs a little balancing.

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- The Timaru Herald

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