Monday, March 30, 2009


Earlier in the month, Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson warned employers not to abuse their new 90-day fire at will powers, saying that the government would monitor how employers were using the law. So I was quite surprised to read this section in Parliament's annual financial review of the Department of Labour [PDF]:

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008 amended the Employment Relations Act 2000 to enable small and medium-sized employers to hire staff for trial periods of up to 90 days. We inquired about the impact of the recently passed legislation on the department’s workload. The department reprioritised its work programme to accommodate the additional work. Its focus has been on providing information to employers on the Act, and letting small employers know what they have to do to implement the new provisions. Only small numbers of inquiries have been received to date. The department has updated its online employment contract to provide the option of a standard clause. The department has no way of monitoring those who lose their jobs within 90 days, other than through the complaints procedure, nor has it the ability to report positive or negative impacts on the labour market. Outside of this administrative data, it will have access to data on the numbers of people returning to benefits administered by the Ministry of Social Development within a 90-day period.
(Emphasis added)

So, basically it has no way of telling whether the law is being abused or not. Some "monitoring". The warning was just spin, lies-to-children to get us to shut up and go away.