Employers beware: In a judgment last week, the Employment Court has criticised an employer for relying on a template from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in drafting its employment agreements. This led to a murky situation where, according to the contract, the employer had its employee on simultaneous probation and trial periods.

The employer tried to rely on the 90 day trial period so that it could dismiss the employee without the need for consultation, but the Court found that the trial period was invalid because of the existence of a simultaneous probationary clause. The Court stated that the employer was required to follow fair procedures before dismissing the employee, including giving a warning that it was considering dismissal and giving the employee four weeks’ notice as per the contract. The Court found that the employee was unjustifiably dismissed.

It can be risky and costly to rely on templates for employment contracts without seeking legal guidance. In this case, the employer was required to pay the employee two weeks of wages and $1,000 in compensation. More significantly, the employer had to dedicate time and personnel to attending mediation, the Employment Relations Authority, and the Employment Court. Getting specialist legal advice at the outset helps avoid these expensive and lengthy conflicts.

The case also highlights the importance of obtaining legal representation in the employment jurisdiction, to ensure that all elements of a case are comprehensively put forward. The employee, while successfully establishing an unjustifiable dismissal, failed to put forward adequate evidence of her humiliation, so only received a marginal compensation payment.

Read the full judgment here.

Contact BuckettLaw today to start the conversation about your business needs and nip any employment contract problems in the bud before they escalate.

Phone: 04 472 8600

Toby Cooper
Employment Lawyer

This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.


although BuckettLaw is based in Wellington City, it services clients throughout New Zealand, with a focus on servicing employees and organisations in certain regions.

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Located in the heart of Wellington City, BuckettLaw services clients nationwide, with a strong presence in certain regions. If you are unsure whether you need an employment lawyer, or want a preliminary discussion on your employment issue, get in touch with one of our employment lawyers right away.
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