90 Day Trial Periods Glossary Graphic

What is a 90-Day Trial Period? 


In New Zealand, a 90-day trial period is a legal provision allowing employers to be more liberal in hiring and dismissing staff. During a valid trial period, employers can assess new employees’ suitability for up to 90 calendar days without the risk of facing claims for unjustified dismissal if they decide to terminate them. 


During this time, employers have the freedom to evaluate an employee’s fit for the job without the usual legal obligations. If the employer finds that the employee isn’t the right match within the 90-days, they can end the employment without needing specific reasons or following standard termination procedures. It is important to note that 90-day trial periods are the only trial periods available in New Zealand. 


However, there are strict criteria for this trial period to be legally binding. Not all employees are automatically subject to this trial, and certain conditions must be met. For instance, a written employment agreement that includes the 90-day trial clause must be provided before the employee starts working. 


Employees under this trial period still have fundamental rights, such as the minimum wage and entitled holidays as per the law. The trial period mainly simplifies termination within the initial 90-days allowing employer to summarily fire an employee.  


What is a 90-Day Trial Period Clause? 


When you start your employment with a new company a 90-day trial period may be written into your contract. It’s important to understand that 90-day trial periods are a piece of opt-in legislation meaning they do not automatically apply to all contracts and only have effect when written in.  


Due to the 90-day trial periods being opt-in legislation the Employment Relations Authority only recognises valid 90-Day trial period clauses with clear and specific drafting. When an employment agreement includes vague drafting often the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) have determined the trial period provision becomes null and void.  Two key aspects of trial period clauses that the Authority requires clear drafting are the period and commencement date of such trials. 




What are the exceptions to 90-Day Trial Periods?  


Understanding these exclusion criteria is vital for employers to ensure compliance with New Zealand employment law when implementing 90-day trial periods. Proper adherence to these conditions helps in creating legally binding employment agreements and ensures fairness for both employers and employees. 







What is a Probationary Period? 



A probationary period is an agreed-upon timeframe—often longer than 90-days—where both employers and employees assess job fit and performance, typically through structured reviews and goal setting.  An Employment Agreement can have either a 90-day trial period or a probationary period and should not have both periods simultaneously in the agreement, they are mutually exclusive. 


For both the trial and probationary periods to be legally binding, specific terms and conditions must be outlined in the employment agreement provided to the employee before they start working. 


For an employer to terminate employment during a probationary period they must follow the same  


Employees under both periods retain basic rights, including the minimum wage, holiday entitlements, and other benefits as per New Zealand employment laws. However, understanding the nuances between these periods is vital for both employers and employees to navigate employment agreements effectively and ensure fair and lawful employment practices in New Zealand. 



What are my rights during a 90-day trial period? 


            While your ability to file a personal grievance for unfair dismissal if your fired during a 90-day trial is limited, you still maintain several fundamental rights and freedoms. These include basic legislated employment rights, health and safety protections, protection from discrimination, the right to fair treatment, a written employment agreement, notice of termination, access to the grievance process and legal recourse for unjustified actions. 


Basic Rights 


Health and Safety Protections 


Protection from Discrimination 


Right to Fair Treatment 


Access to the Grievance Process 


Notice of Termination 


A Right to Justice 



Understanding these rights is crucial for employees to ensure they are treated fairly and lawfully during a 90-day trial period. It’s recommended to review the employment agreement carefully and seek advice or clarification if needed to ensure proper protection of rights during this period. 



How does dismissal work with a 90-Day Trial Period in NZ? 


A 90-Day Trial differs from a standard employment relationship when it comes to protections for workers from termination. These include specifically:    








Understanding the dismissal process during a 90-day trial period is essential for both employers and employees in New Zealand. Employers should be aware of their rights and obligations, while employees should understand their level of protection and the process surrounding dismissal within this trial period. 



What is the process for filing a personal grievance for a dismissal under a 90-day trial period? 


If you believe you were unfairly dismissed during a 90-day trial period, the process for filing a personal grievance involves lodging a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority. Sacked Kiwi’s team of experts is ready to help you navigate this process. Contact Us for support and guidance in filing your claim. Contact them here! 


Legal Disclaimer: The content posted on the Sacked Kiwis website should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice or opinion. The information presented here is not intended to serve as legal guidance. Over time, laws and regulations evolve, potentially altering the accuracy of previously shared information. Updates in jurisprudence or legislation, which could happen without immediate notice, may render the legal information on this platform outdated or obsolete. 


Should you need employment advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our toll-free hotline.