NEWS

Employing new staff - use a trial period!

Janet owns a small printing business on the North Shore.  The business has grown steadily over the last 10 years and now employs 12 staff.

Janet belongs to a business networking group on the Shore.  The members of that group have encouraged Janet to take on an operations manager to enable Janet to focus on strategic direction for the business.  Janet is in two minds about this - she knows that in order to take the business to the next level she needs to have an operations manager. However, she’s also not sure she wants to let go control!

Janet talked about her fears at a recent business networking group.  Afterwards, a lawyer member of the group approached Janet and gave her tips around employing senior staff members.  The lawyer also mentioned trial periods. Janet had heard about trial periods through the media but she had never got around to using them.

The lawyer put it really simply – a trial period (if implemented correctly) is an employer’s “get out of jail free” card, i.e. it’s an employer’s one opportunity to relatively easily dismiss an employee if the relationship is not working out.

Janet feels reassured and works with the lawyer to prepare a job description and remuneration package for the operations manager position.  The lawyer also prepares a comprehensive employment agreement that includes restraint of trade and non-solicitation period clauses as well as clauses which protect the company’s important intellectual property and confidential information.  Of course, there is also a trial period clause in the agreement.

Janet interviews three candidates.  One of the candidates, Michael, is the stand-out so Janet meets with him and offers him the job.  Janet goes through the main terms of the employment (start date, remuneration, restraint of trade, trial period etc) and then provides him with the proposed employment agreement. Janet gives Michael time to review the agreement and seek independent legal advice on the same.  Once Michael has confirmed he is happy with the agreement, Janet asks him to sign two copies of the agreement and return them to her prior to his start date (the lawyer had advised Janet that this was a requirement to ensure the trial period is valid).

Four months down the track and things are going well.  Michael exceeded his early targets and is a real asset in the office.  Janet did not need to use the trial period to dismiss Michael – but she felt much more confident employing him knowing she could terminate his employment if he was unsuitable for the position.

If you need assistance regarding any employment issue including trial periods, recruitment or preparing new employment agreements, please call our employment law specialist Bronwen Newcombe on 09 915-6140 or bcn@davenportsharbour.co.nz

 

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