Small and medium business owners have welcomed the news that the 90-day probation period policy will see the light under John Key's government, says David Lowe, employment services manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Union (EMA).
"This is something employers have been looking forward to for a long time," he says.
Lowe visited 5000 businesses in the upper North Island this week to explain how the new government will affect their operations.
When rolled out, the 90-day trial period for employees will allow businesses with fewer than 20 staff _ thought to be 33 per cent of businesses _ to dismiss new staff members within 90 days, and avoid claims of unjustified dismissal.
The National Party says this will encourage small businesses to take a risk on workers they might otherwise be reluctant to employ, but Labour and unions say the policy will strip workers of their rights.
Many employers supported National MP Wayne Mapp when he tried to introduce a similar policy three years ago and were disappointed when the bill was defeated in Parliament in November 2006.
Then, opponents had said it was unfair and unnecessary and unions described it as "a naked attack on workers' rights".
Those divisions remain, but this time the policy looks ready to roll.
National's spokesperson for labour and industrial relations Kate Wilkinson told the Herald on Sunday the new government has not set a time-frame for rolling out the policy as it is not part of Key's 100-day plan, but she hopes businesses will get some indication once the parliamentary roles have been announced.
Lowe says it is important to remember the 90-day probationary policy is a tried-and-true concept.
New Zealand and Denmark are the only OECD countries that do not follow it.
The policy will be important for economic growth as it will encourage businesses to take on new staff sooner, rather than wait for the economy to pick up, he says.
Lowe expects the policy will assist the unemployment rate.
It will give people such as immigrants, mothers returning to the workforce and people with chequered backgrounds the chance to prove themselves, he says.
"There are people who just want to be given a chance but bosses just think it's too risky."
But Helen Kelly, president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is still strongly opposed to the policy and hopes to talk to the National Party about what it wants to achieve.
"We have had a period of high employment with proper personal grievance structures that worked fine."
Kelly says workers with little bargaining power will become very replaceable under the policy. "They'll have no right to challenge [dismissal], no reasons have to be given."
And she says it's even worse to release it during an economic recession: "First, you lose your job, then you find you get to your next job and have no rights."
Employment lawyer John Rooney of Simpson Grierson says the employee still has the protection of human rights and breach of contract legislation and after the 90-day period, all the usual worker rights would come into play.
He thinks the policy will result in less work for employment lawyers as there will be fewer disputes over the grounds of dismissal. But he wonders whether 90 days is long enough for an employer to make a judgment on a new staff member.
"If someone's borderline, employers only have two to three months to make the decision. Sometimes that's not enough," he says.