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Simple Trial Period Mistake Costs Employer

Published 09 Oct 2016

Another employer has learnt a costly lesson by assuming their standard trial period clause was legal.  Trials periods are unenforceable unless strict content and implementation requirements have been accurately followed.

Lighthouse ECE Ltd employed four early child care teachers on 90 day trial periods.  The trial period stated that it would last for 90 days and, if dismissed, the teachers could not bring a claim in respect of their dismissal.   Lighthouse dismissed the teachers under their respective trial periods.

However, a technical mistake was made in the content of the trial period clause.  The clause did not state that the 90 day trial period would start from the first day of the teachers’ employment and Lighthouse simply assumed the teachers would know this.

Despite Lighthouse arguing that requiring the specific start date was an ‘overly technical interpretation’, the Authority adopted a strict interpretation of the legislation. Lighthouse did not reasonably imply that the 90 days started on the first day the teachers started work and therefore the trial period was not lawful and the teachers were unjustifiably dismissed.

Employment Agreements provided by Employers Assistance have always had this explicitly stated in the 90 Day Trial Period clauses. We also provide services to review employment agreements and ensure their legality, and always advise to contact us before dismissing someone in this situation.

More for information and free tools to assist with using 90 Day Trial Periods please see the following article: