Be sure on law of three month tri­als

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JOHN BROS­NAN

Most peo­ple know that em­ploy­ment agree­ments are re­quired by law for ev­ery per­son you em­ploy – even the ca­sual re­lief milker.

How­ever, many still get caught out with un­der­stand­ing the 90-day trial pe­riod clause and how to use it.

There is now a rea­son­able amount of case law de­vel­oped around this and the 90-day trial pe­riod re­mains, in my opin­ion, an ex­cel­lent and valid tool that I rec­om­mend em­ploy­ers use – so long as they use it cor­rectly.

Here is a quick guide on the 90-day trial pe­riod:

The ap­pli­cants must know dur­ing the in­ter­view process that a 90-day trial pe­riod is part of the terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment that will be of­fered to a suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cant.

The em­ploy­ment agree­ment in­clud­ing the trial clause, busi­ness/farm hand­book and any other staff poli­cies need to be pro­vided to the ap­pli­cant to take away and look through. They must have the op­por­tu­nity for in­de­pen­dent ad­vice at least two days prior to when the em­ploy­ment agree­ments will be signed.

The em­ploy­ment agree­ment in­clud­ing the trial pe­riod clause must be signed be­fore the em­ployee sets foot on farm to do any work at all.

Once started it is good prac­tice to sit down with the em­ployee ev­ery two weeks dur­ing the trial pe­riod and dis­cuss how they are go­ing. Cover any con­cerns that have de­vel­oped and pro­vide train­ing to as­sist where prac­ti­cal.

This is es­sen­tial as the em­ployee is still en­ti­tled to know how they are go­ing in the work­place and if they are not per­form­ing as ex­pected to have a chance to cor­rect this.

This also en­sures that, if the em­ploy­ment is ter­mi­nated in terms of the trial pe­riod, the em­ployee is well aware that this was pos­si­ble in line with dis­cus­sions that had been tak­ing place.

There are in­stances where a trial pe­riod can­not be in­cluded in an em­ploy­ment agree­ment and in­stances where it is no longer en­force­able. Th­ese in­clude:

If the ap­pli­cant has worked for you in any form what­so­ever be­fore, whether it be as a re­lief milker, school work ex­pe­ri­ence, hol­i­day job, some form of sea­sonal labour.

If the ap­pli­cant has worked for you be­fore, then a 90-day trial pe­riod can­not be in place.

If the em­ployee starts work for you prior to sign­ing the em­ploy­ment agree­ment, then the trial pe­riod clause is in­val­i­dated. So do not ac­cept an of­fer by some­one to do a few ‘‘free milk­ings’’ (or any­thing sim­i­lar) with you so you can see how they work be­fore you hire them as this in­val­i­dates the trial pe­riod.

If you get the ap­pli­cant to sign the em­ploy­ment agree­ment with­out them hav­ing had time and op­por­tu­nity to take it away and seek in­de­pen­dent ad­vice and also if it is not ex­plained in ad­vance that a trial pe­riod will be a part of the terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment.

Trial pe­ri­ods are an ex­cel­lent tool to help pro­tect the em­ployer and a gen­uine and ca­pa­ble em­ployee should have no fear of them. They sim­ply need to be ac­tioned cor­rectly.

If you need help with this or any­thing else in the hu­man re­sources area on farm, get in touch with me at Coop­erAitken Ltd, my di­rect line is 07 9022 838, email john@ coop­eraitken. co.nz.

JOHN BROS­NAN

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