Blog written by LesleyAnn Thomas from People in Mind Ltd
Yes! It’s the HR version of that famous television programme, Mythbusters! There are three myths in HR that we regularly hear clients and professional advisors talk about, and we seriously need to bust them!
Myth #1 – Trial periods don’t exist anymore
Fact - They do!
Some employers and business advisors think trial periods don’t exist, but this simply isn’t the case.
There are still provisions in the legislation for a significant number of employers, but there are rules that apply and employers must ensure they meet these legal obligations:
- Act in good faith, with the intention of hiring the employee into a permanent role
- The trial period must be agreed by the employee and must be written into the employment agreement
- The agreement must be signed before the employee starts work
- The trial period can only be used if there are 19 or fewer staff at the time of hire
- The trial period can’t be offered to employees who have worked for you before.
If you don’t meet the criteria to use a trial period then you should consider using a probationary period.
Myth #2 – Sick leave is pro-rated for part-time staff
- All permanent staff are entitled to 10 days sick leave regardless of how many days a week they work for you.
- The new 10 days provision kicked in on 24 July and takes effect on the employee’s next anniversary date on or after 24 July 2021.
- For casual staff, and assuming it is written into their employment agreement, there is a test the employer can use to determine whether they are entitled to sick leave – click here for a handy guide from MBIE to help you determine if your casual employee qualifies for sick leave.
Myth #3 – If an employee has stolen money from their employer, they can be dismissed on the spot.
You can’t fire someone on the spot!
- The confusion comes in because ‘summary dismissal’ is commonly referred to as ‘instant’ dismissal, which some employers then translate to ‘I can dismiss this employee on the spot’. You can’t fire the employee on the spot! The good faith provisions of employment legislation govern how to manage a matter of potential serious misconduct. You need to work through a fair and reasonable process before reaching a conclusion that summary dismissal is appropriate.
- Think of it like a court case – innocent until proven guilty. Your fair and reasonable process should include (but not be limited to):
- Letting the employee know you’re investigating an incident of potential serious misconduct.
- Ensuring the employee knows they can include a support person or professional advisor in the process at any time.
- A proper and thorough investigation.
- Advising your employee of the specific allegations and potential outcomes if upheld.
- Giving the employee a genuine opportunity to respond and present their side.
- Reviewing all of the information, including the employee’s response in front of you before making a final decision.
Top Tip | If you are considering a potential serious misconduct matter, I highly recommend you seek professional advice before you start the journey.
We hope our mythbusting has been helpful. The thing about myths is they can often seem quite plausible, even probable, so it’s important to fact-check. A situation can turn into a costly exercise if you are basing decisions on perception not reality!