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Government again ignores advice to attack protections for workers – 90-day trials extended

Law change simply extends the exploitation

All new workers will soon to be vulnerable to being fired at will with no reason following the Government’s reckless haste to pass under urgency an extension to 90 day trials to all businesses.

The Employment Relations (Trial Periods) Amendment Bill is poised to be passed today without the possibility of select committee scrutiny and in the face of clear evidence from officials that the trials have no economic benefit.   

“Fundamental protections for workers are again being removed with indecent haste by a Government whose values are clear to all,” said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff.

“The right to fire at will and without reason was limited to businesses employing fewer than 20 workers, but now all new workers will be vulnerable to exploitation.

“This Government promised evidence-based policy, but again this is just bluster given Treasury showed in 2017 the 90-day trial policy did not work,”

Treasury commissioned Motu which found ‘no evidence that the ability to use trial periods significantly increases firms’ overall hiring’.  It also said there was ‘no evidence that the policy increased the probability that a new hire by a firm was a disadvantaged jobseeker for a range of definitions of disadvantaged jobseeker: beneficiaries, jobseeker beneficiaries, non-workers, recent migrants, youths under 25 years old, Māori or Pasifika under 25 years old, or education leavers. This result holds both over the economy as a whole, and in the high-use industries’.

Richard Wagstaff said; “What we do know is that the policy leads to job insecurity for new workers, who for their first three months of work know they can be fired for any reason (or none at all) and with no explanation.

“This flies in the face of basic natural justice and leaves new workers especially vulnerable and in a very weak position to challenge their employers every whim, without risking their job.

“This Government is making a habit of this. Just last week it ignored advice from officials that axing Fair Pay Agreements deprived women, Māori, Pasifika and the disabled hundreds of millions of dollars in potential pay rises. It is again letting flawed free market ideology dictate policy.

“There’s simply no gain – only pain in trial periods. It is just a political payoff to the business lobby that is allergic to workers’ rights and collective bargaining and now has the ear of the Government.

“Removing basic legal rights should be an anathema in a modern democratic society and can’t be justified by serving business interests by making it cheaper and easier to fire workers.

“Together with the rollback of Fair Pay Agreements, and risks to reforms to contracting, there is a compelling case that this reform is simply designed to create a more insecure, compliant, and less well-organised workforce,” said Richard Wagstaff.