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The Prime Minister's claim that dismissed workers under the 90 day-trial scheme still have to be told why they are being fired is questionable, an employment law expert says.
John Key was challenged in the House yesterday over comments bosses are obliged to give a reason why they are dismissing new workers under the scheme.
The Government plans to extend the scheme - which applies to small companies of less than 20 workers - to all new workers.
Outside the trial period, employers are obliged to give workers a consultation process:
* To tell a worker of the decision to fire them.
* To provide information that led to the decision and allow them a response before a final decision is made.
* To give them a written statement of why they were fired within 60 days, if requested.
But these protections are excluded from the trial period, as explained in an article tabled in Parliament by Lawlink, a network of 18 law firms from around New Zealand.
"Under a trial period an employer does not have to tell an employee of any pending decision to terminate employment," the article said.
"Trial period employees have no right to comment on the proposed termination before it happens, nor are they able to request [a written explanation]."
But Mr Key said this did not mean a boss did not have to tell a worker why they were being dismissed.
"The 90-day trial is covered by good faith provisions," Mr Key told the House.
"It is reasonable to accept that that includes giving a basic reason. However, there is no reason for a formal written reason."
The good faith provisions require the relationship between a boss and a worker to be "responsive and communicative".
Employment law specialist Jane Latimer said the Prime Minister's claim was arguable. "The question is: is not telling someone why they've been dismissed at the time of their dismissal being uncommunicative or unresponsive?
"And it could go both ways, depending if you have a narrow view of being 'communicative and responsive', or having a broader view."
She noted if a worker was dismissed and did not ask for a reason why, an employer would have no legal obligation to tell them.
Anecdotal cases have emerged of workers on the trial period that have been dismissed and not told why.