Employee trial periods – what do they mean for you as an employee

June 24, 2013

in Employment

iStock_000016394154SmallRecent decisions of the Employment Court have made it clear that an employee will not be prevented from bringing a personal grievance or other claim in respect to their dismissal during a trial period unless this has been clearly agreed in writing between you and your employer before you start work.  Trial periods can only be used for new employees.  If you’re an existing employee you can be subject to a probationary period but not a trial period.

A trial provision in an employment agreement must state:

  1. that for a specified period (not exceeding 90 days), starting at the beginning of the employee’s employment, the employee is to serve a trial period; and
  2. that during the trial period the employer may dismiss the employee; and
  3. that if the employer does so, the employee is not entitled to bring a personal grievance or other legal proceedings in respect of the dismissal.

For the trial provision to be effective, it is essential that before you start work you must either:

  • sign the employment agreement containing the trial provision; or
  • otherwise confirm in writing that you agree to the trial provision on the terms outlined above.

An employer should provide you with a copy of the proposed employment agreement at the time of making the offer of employment, advise you that you are entitled to seek independent advice in respect to the employment agreement and give you a reasonable amount of time to do so.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Kirsten Maclean


03 477 8870 or 09 379 0055


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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