The Employment Relations Authority has reconfirmed that the law does not allow for unpaid trial periods to assess suitability to work.  Anyone taken on for a trial to assess suitability is entitled to be paid the minimum wage, and is entitled to the full rights of employees, including a proper process and justification for any dismissal.

In this case the potential employee was given a six-hour trial, but not kept on after part of the trial.  There was no written agreement to the “trial” period as required.  Therefore the “trial” period did not apply, and the worker was a permanent employee.

The ERA ordered payment for the full trial period, plus lost wages for the full period until she obtained alternative employment (six weeks), plus $5,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

If the employer had got its documentation right it could have had a six hour trial period (paid), and dismissed the employee during that period without the employee being able to take a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

The failure to have an employment agreement and a written trial period clause cost the employer dearly.

If you need help with your employment agreements call me on (04) 4736 850.