In a recent unjustified dismissal case it was accepted the employer had discussed with the employee, prior to commencing work, that they would be on a 90 day trial period. However, the Employment Relations Authority held the employer could not rely on that oral agreement.  The employer, in summarily dismissing the employee at the end of the trail period, was found to have made a wrongful dismissal.

The ERA’s decision was because of the requirement that all employment agreements must be in writing, signed by both parties and retained by the employer.  The oral agreement here was unenforceable, as the 90 day trial provision had not been placed in the written agreed contract.

As a result of the wrongful dismissal the employee was awarded three months lost wages and $2,500 compensation for hurt, humiliation and loss of dignity.

Had the employer included a clause regarding the trial period in the written contract, the employee would have had no basis to claim wrongful dismissal.

This case emphasizes the need for employers to ensure their contracts are properly drafted and consistent with all legal requirements.