90 Day Trial Period for New Employees
National intends to make it lawful to have a 90 day trial period for new employees. Employees would still have all the normal rights of employees during this period save that, the relationship could be terminated for performance without the employee having a right to bring a personal grievance. The trial period will only apply to businesses with fewer than 20 staff. It can also only be introduced by agreement.
Unions and Collective Bargaining
National proposes introducing a right for workers to bargain collectively without having to belong to a union. This was a key element of the Employment Contracts Act, and like in the 1990s, could potentially have a negative impact on union membership.
National would retain the existing Mediation Service but would ensure that it was properly resourced with qualified mediators. The Employment Relations Authority would remain but would be required to act ‘judicially’ and in accordance with ‘the principles of natural justice’. Finally, injunctions and important questions of law would be heard in the Employment Court in the first instance, rather than in the Employment Relations Authority.
The entitlement of four weeks of annual leave would remain. However, unlike the current law, employees could request to exchange their unused fourth week of leave for cash, if they wanted to. In those circumstances, no personal grievance rights would apply.
National would appoint a working group to review the Holidays Act 2003. The focus would be to reduce compliance cost for employers, with a particular focus on the issue of relevant daily pay.