The Employment Relations Act 2000 now provides for a 90 day Trial Period for new employees with effect from the 1st March 2009 if the business employs no more than 19 staff at the time when the employee is employed. The Trial Period only applies to workers employed on or after 1 March 2009.
However, all Employers can still have a Probationary Period for all new employees no matter what the size of the business is. The Probationary Period can be for more, or less, than 90 days.
The Trial Period means that an employer and employee can enter into an agreement that, for the specified and agreed number of days of up to, but no more than 90 days, the employer can dismiss the employee without the employee being able to take a personal grievance for reasons of unfair dismissal. All other aspects of the Employment Relations Act 2000 still apply to that employment relationship.
The Trial Period is voluntary and needs to be entered into in good faith, and the employer and employee need to agree to the Trial Period in writing.
An employee under the Trial Period can still bring a personal grievance or legal proceedings if:
- one or more conditions of the employee’s employment (such as pay, conditions, leave, health and safety) is or was affected to the employee’s disadvantage by some unjustifiable action by the employer; or
- that the employee has been discriminated against in the employee’s employment; or
- that the employee has been sexually harassed in the employee’s employment; or
- that the employee has been racially harassed in the employee’s employment; or
- that the employee has been subject to duress in the employee’s employment in relation to membership or non-membership of a union or employee’s organisation.
An employee who has completed a Trial Period cannot be subjected to another Trial Period by the same employer, but could be subjected to a Probationary Period in the event of a change of position with new tasks to perform for the same employer.
Employees on a Trial Period, if they were previously on a benefit or if they receive assistance post-redundancy in a new package that was announced in November 2008 by the Minister of Social Development, will not face a stand-down if they go back on a benefit or onto the post-redundancy assistance, unless they have been dismissed for misconduct, or have chosen to end the Trial Period themselves without a good reason.