July 7th 2008
For Immediate Use
Call For More Detail On National's 90 Day Policy
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is urging the National Party to provide details of its 90 day probationary policy for people starting new jobs, including its implications for schools and early childhood centres.
The Party's Deputy leader Bill English and industrial relations spokesperson Kate Wilkinson have confirmed that National will pursue the policy for small businesses despite strong opposition and the failure of its 90 Day Bill through parliament two years ago.
NZEI which represents 49,000 principals, teachers and education staff, has grave concerns about the fairness of such a policy. It appears that employers would have the power to dismiss employees without recourse to personal grievance protections in the first three months of their employment.
If it were applied to thousands of small schools and early childhood centres around the country, a 90 Day probationary period would have profound implications on professional and career development, and exacerbate teacher supply and shortage issues.
NZEI President Frances Nelson says "many teachers and principals move to gain promotion but this policy would create an environment which would hamper their career paths as they'd be reluctant to move to a new job where there was no certainty of employment for the first 90 days. It would make it even more difficult for small, rural or remote schools to attract experienced staff."
"We want to know more about how National intends to apply this policy and want to see more detail. The so-called voluntary aspects of the proposal are incomprehensible," she says.
NZEI also says comments by Bill English on TVNZ's Agenda programme, that "teachers have a two year probationary period", are incorrect. As a former education spokesperson Mr English should know that the two years which new graduates spend as provisionally registered teachers are NOT a probationary period. They are part of a new teacher's professional training, mentoring and induction, and are not some sort of mechanism to sack or dismiss teachers who do not meet standards, as Mr English suggests.