Depending on the number of employees you have within your business you may have a 6 or 12-month probationary period. Most employers believe that during this time they can terminate employment at any point without reason…….. wrong!
While employees on a probation period are not able to lodge an unfair dismissal claim, they are able to lodge a general protection claim. So, what is the difference?
Unfair dismissal claim: If you have been unfairly dismissed or sacked by your employer, or you were forced to resign because of something your employer did. An example would be if an employer threatens to sack an employee if they do not resign.
General protections claim: General protections are intended to protect workplace rights, protect freedom of association, provide protection from workplace discrimination and provide effective relief for persons who have been discriminated against, victimised or have experienced other unfair treatment. An example would be if an employer terminated an employee due to pregnancy or planning a pregnancy.
The best way to manage employees who are on their probation period is the same way as you would manage any other. If the employee is not performing, let them know. Give them guidance, support and the opportunity to improve. Meet with them on a regular basis to let them know how they are tracking.
After you have been through the performance improvement process and the employee is still not suitable and you need to terminate employment, make sure you do so lawfully. HR Gurus are qualified to provide assistance on how to manage these situations.
Before you terminate, make sure you have calculated the employees service period correctly. Employment starts from the first date employment commences, this is the date the probation period starts. 1 month means 1 calendar month. If the employee starts on January 10th, the probation period would finish on June 10th (unless you are a small business of 15 employees or less).
Probation periods may be extended due to employee absences such as paid or unpaid leave. For example, a period of unpaid carer’s leave will not count as part of the employee’s probation period.
As an employer, you need to be aware that terminating an employee may expose your business to risk regardless of the probation period.
If you need advice in regard to terminating within probation give HR Gurus a call on 1300 959 560 and one of our highly experienced Gurus will be able to help.
Written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol.