Wellington, May 27 NZPA - The Government has extended the 90-day trial period for new employees to its Job Ops scheme and Labour says young workers could be exploited.
The change was in the budget and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson told Parliament today it had been made because employers had said the scheme needed more flexibility.
The scheme pays employers a wage subsidy of up to $5000 to make it easier for them to hire unemployed young people and give them a chance to get a start in the labour market.
The 90-day trial period, introduced last year amid strident protest from trade unions, means employers can sack a new employee within the period without risking a personal grievance case.
Labour MP Darien Fenton said applying it to the Job Opportunities scheme would expose young workers to unnecessary exploitation.
"There is nothing more flexible than a temporary job and there's nothing worse than having no rights in that temporary job," she said.
"Employers can receive a subsidy of up to $5000 through Job Ops, presumably in recognition of their help in bringing down youth unemployment, but the change to the scheme means that the employer could then fire that subsidised workers within 90 days with no fear of an appeal against unfair dismissal."
Ms Fenton said the scheme was the only remaining government programme specifically designed to help young workers into jobs.
"Young workers are often not aware of their rights and I can see that rather than being a positive experience in helping young workers enter the workforce, this could become a nightmare," she said.