A Little challenge on 90 day trial

Andrew Little’s ‘State of the Nation’ speech was big on employment ambition via small businesses but little on detail. He can be excused for being vague at this stage, but he and Labour face some tough decisions. One of those is on the 90 day trial put in place by National. The Labour left is ideologically opposed to it.

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff writes in Big on ambition, little on how to get there:

During last year’s election campaign trail, the 90-day trial legislation came up with frequency and passion usually reserved for socially progressive legislation.

In broad terms, it allows employers to terminate the contracts of employees if it is not working out.

Up and down the country it was repeatedly raised by voters. Support is far from universal, but among the audience Little appears to be pitching to, it is clearly strong.

For the tradesman or the cafe owner looking to take on their first, or even fiftieth employee, the trials are seen by many as cast iron insurance that a lazy worker will not be allowed to undermine their livelihood, even among many Labour-backing businesspeople.

Although core Labour supporters may have a natural aversion to a sweeping right to dismiss employees under almost any circumstances, the sheer number of small businesses means it is an issue that must be addressed by Labour in purely political terms, however difficult that may be.

The ‘labour left’ – union supporters – were instrumental in getting Little into the leadership role. They will be disappointed if there’s no pledge to scrap the 90 day trial. But middle New Zealand, where a lot of small business owners are, will be instrumental in rebuilding Labour’s lost vote share.

Labour might try a compromise, like reducing the trial period to 60 or 30 days. But that risks pleasing no one and/or disappointing everyone.

Amongst many others there will be more than a little challenge getting this one right.

Leave a comment


  1. alloytoo

     /  31st January 2015

    The primary opposition to the 90 trial period is that business owners will abuse it to make the position something like a revolving door.

    This assertion alone indicates the yawning chasm between commercially productive part of our economy and the Labour party.

    Anybody who does partake in such a practice is unlikely to remain in business very long.

    • See the next post – support for and only mild opposition to the 90 day trial at The Standard:
      RNZ are reporting Little confirming that the 90 day rule will be gone under a Labour government. Must have covered it in the Q&A session after the speech.


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