Trial or Probation

Updated: Sep 7, 2018


Including a trial period in your employment agreements can protect you from hiring an employee who mightn’t have the right skills or attitude. However, it is important to use them correctly.

Discover what you need to know about trial and probation periods.


Trial periods


What you need to know


You have to:

  • include the trial period in the employment agreement (it can be up to 90 days long) and have the employee sign it before they start work, or it has no legal grounds if it’s contested

  • give the employee all the benefits of a permanent staff member, like holidays and sick leave, while they’re on the trial.

You can’t:

  • put an existing employee on a trial period – they’re for new employees only

  • extend the trial once it ends – the employee becomes permanent unless you dismiss them before the end of the trial period.

If you decide to dismiss the employee within the trial period:

  • they can’t raise a personal grievance against you on the grounds of unfair dismissal

  • they can still raise a personal grievance if they think you’ve discriminated against them or harassed them

  • their notice period still applies.

A trial period is only valid if included in a written employment agreement.

Use Employment Agreement Builder to work through the necessary steps to create a proper agreement.


Probation periods


A probation period is different from a trial period.

A probation period is:

  • for an agreed length of time

  • at the start of employment

  • so an employee new to the job can demonstrate their skills (they can be an existing employee who has applied for a new job with their employer), and

  • so you can assess them.

What you need to know


You have to:

  • include the probation period in the employee’s employment agreement before they start work

  • give the employee all the benefits of a permanent staff member, like holidays and sick leave, while they’re on probation.

You can’t:

  • use a probation period to get work done for free – you have to pay them their full wage while they’re on probation.

If you decide to dismiss the employee during the probation period:

  • they can still raise a personal grievance for unfair dismissal

  • you’ll need to show there was a valid reason for dismissal, and that it was done fairly.


Don't use a fixed-term contract in place of a trial or probation.

This is prohibited. To hire an employee on a fixed-term contract, there must be a genuine reason for the job to only last a certain period of time — like seasonal work or cover for parental leave.


More Info

https://www.business.govt.nz/#hiring-and-managing/hiring-people/


© 2018 by Enterprise Great Lake Taupo

Level One

32 Roberts Street

Taupo

(021) 1321475

business growth mentors economic develpment