90 Day Trial Period Rules

New Zealand farmers hiring farm workers must adhere to specific regulations regarding trial periods for new employees. Employers with 19 or fewer employees can employ a new worker on a trial period for the initial 90 calendar days of their employment, provided the employee has not worked for you before.

For those hiring individuals on certain work visas, compliance with immigration requirements related to trial periods is essential. A valid trial period must be agreed upon in the employment agreement before the employee commences work. It must also include a valid notice period in the employment contract. The agreement can be utilized across various industries and job types, contingent upon mutual agreement between the employer and employee in good faith.

It is crucial that an employee is not coerced into a trial period, and the terms must be established before the employee starts working. An employer cannot dismiss an employee under the trial provision if the agreement was not signed before the commencement of work.

A valid trial period, as stated in the employment agreement, means that during this period, the employee cannot bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal or any other legal proceeding regarding their termination, provided the employer has given the appropriate notice. If an employee is a union member under a collective employment agreement, the trial period terms must align with the collective agreement.

Employees on valid trial periods retain all minimum employment rights and responsibilities, except for bringing a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. However, they must be treated equally to other non-trial period employees. Despite being on a trial period, employees can still file personal grievances for issues such as discrimination, harassment, pressure about union membership, or if the employer does something unjustifiably disadvantaging them.

Mediation is available for both employees and employers at any time. If the employer decides to dismiss the employee during the trial period, they must provide notice within the specified period in the employment agreement. Failure to do so renders the trial period invalid, and the employee's employment will continue. While reasons for dismissal during the trial period are not mandatory, it is considered good practice to communicate them to the employee.

If you are unsure of your rights or the regulations, we recommend you contact your nearest HR or employment advisor, or the EMA or your appropriate industry organisation for further advice.


What Our Customers Think

Great local Accountants. They provide an excellent service with great explanations for the layman. They provide accounting services for non rural clients too.

Quinn Wilson, Restaurant Owner, The Wagon
What Our Customers Think

Rural Accountants is a real asset to our business.

The team at Rural Accountants pretty much manage all our administrative tasks for the group including payroll and tax planning, ensuring we don’t pay any more than necessary. They are at the forefront of technology and have helped us get up and running with Xero and Figured which is much more efficient than the way we used to work.

Sam Jones, Managing Director, Sybton Farm Ltd Partnership
What Our Customers Think

Christine is very knowledgeable, great to deal with and knows our business well. She is also a sheep & beef farmer so knows the industry really well and understands our needs.

Rural Accountants keeps us on track through strategic and forward planning meetings throughout the year. Christine knows our business inside out so she can deal with our questions instantly.

Mathew & Gemma Barham, Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year 2012
What Our Customers Think

What Our Customers Think

I used to work out my GST and process it manually which would take me at least a full day every two months. The team set up reconcilliation rules and other quick tools, and showed me how to do all my reconcilliations and process my GST returns through Xero which now takes me no time at all!

Mike O'Neill, Financial Services Northland Ltd
What Our Customers Think

As a farmer, Christine understands our business and how farmers and growers operate.

We use Rural Accountants to provide a full accounting service to an orcharding partnership which operates a number of orchards with a wide spread of varieties and management systems. Rural Accountants are always timely and accurate, and their annual financial accounts are extremely easy to understand and very grower-friendly.

Paul Jones, Orchardist