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Mapp Report - 27 October 2006

Mapp Report - 27 October 2006

Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill -

Beginning the journey to greater employment

Over the last 12 months I have been campaigning for my 90-Day Probation Bill to allow employees easier access into the workforce. This week the Bill was finally deliberated on in the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee. The next major event is the second reading, which will take place in Parliament in November or early December.

Proposed amendments to the Bill

I have suggested major amendments to the Bill, which should help the Maori Party, New Zealand First and United Future vote in favour of the Bill

The submissions to the Select Committee demonstrated the need for some changes to be made to the Bill. The first change will ensure that employment contracts commence from the beginning of the probation period. This will ensure that good faith provisions will also apply to all employment contracts from the commencement of the contract.

The key change to the Bill will provide that probationary employees will be restricted from taking a personal grievance relating to unjustified dismissal. All other issues arising from employment contracts, such as pay arrears, holiday pay, sexual harassment, will have the existing remedies currently available under the Employment Relations Act.

Many submitters were concerned that there should be a procedure that employers should follow if an employee does not successfully complete the probation period. There was general agreement among submitters that reasons should be given, and mediation should be available. However, there should be no further recourse to the dispute resolution procedures, since this would defeat the very purpose of the Bill, which is to establish a meaningful probationary employment without the encumbrance of complicated and expensive dispute resolution processes.

The point of probationary employment is that it is intended to lead to permanent employment. Such an employee would then have employment on all the ordinary terms of employment.

The final issue is whether there should be a shorter probation period if it is a short-term employment contract. This is particularly relevant for workers in short-term employment, such as seasonal work. Such contracts are usually for six months or less. To have a 90-day probation period is excessive for such a short-term contract. The Bill would now provide for a 30-day probation period for short-term contracts of six months or less.

Laying the foundation for employment success

The submissions process has been particularly valuable in giving an insight into how to make the 90-day probation Bill work successfully. It is clear the Bill, if accepted into law, will begin New Zealand’s journey into greater levels of employment especially for those who are currently finding it difficult to get emploment. The National Party and I are determined that New Zealand should have modern employment law, which will benefit all New Zealanders.

ENDS

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