Probationary Periods - Your Questions Answered

Probationary Periods - Your Questions Answered

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Posted-on June 2017 By Rupert Harvey

Probationary Period

Can I apply a probationary period to a promotion?


No, probationary periods only apply to the initial period of employment, not to changes in position.

How should I confirm employment?

Should the probation period be completed, legally employment is confirmed without any further action needing to be taken.  

It is good practice to provide a letter to the team member confirming their ongoing employment. Some organisations provide a card and/or gift at this time in addition to or instead of the formal letter.  What is important is that the employee has clarity that they are confirmed in an ongoing capacity.

Acknowledgement or celebration of the end of the probationary period is highly recommended as this assists with employee engagement and recognises that probation is often a stressful period for employees due to the inherent uncertainty of their employment situation.

Do temp or casual team members have a probationary period?

Casual team members and temporary team members are exempt from a probationary period.

This is because, by nature of the type of employment, casual and temporary employees are deemed terminated at the end of their last shift and cannot reasonably foresee an ongoing employment relationship.

However, a casual team member who has been employed for more than 6 months, and whose engagement has been regular and systematic, may lodge a claim for unfair dismissal.

This means that you should assess the suitability of a casual team member for continued employment and make a decision about their continued engagement within six months.

What should I do if someone isn’t right for the role?

Should the new team member be clearly unsuitable for their position and is unlikely to meet the inherent requirements of the position within the probationary period, you can take the decision to terminate their employment.

You should not wait until the end of the probationary period before taking action. You should have provided all reasonable support and should have managed the person’s performance before taking this decision.  Unlawful or discriminatory reasons cannot form any part of the decision to terminate employment.

It is recommended you seek advice from a Human Resources professional as early as possible if you are considering termination of employment.

Need help or more information?

If you are an employer in need of further information or assistance , feel free to contact us.

Individuals requiring advice or information should contact the Fair Work Commission on 1300 799 675 or via fwc.gov.au 

This article was originally written by The Cultural Archaeologists (CA Associates Pty Ltd).