the probationary period

Probationary periods are used to test and establish whether the candidate selection process was correct, and whether the new employee is adjusting well to the role and team.

It is common – and acceptable – to have a probationary or trial period for a new employee. The Fair Work Act 2009 precludes an employee taking unfair dismissal proceedings for a period of up to six months from the date of commencement of employment. This means that each employment relationship has a built-in probation period of six months, unless stated otherwise. 

Where there is a probation period of less than six months in a contract, the courts and commissions will accept that the probation period has been altered. It is therefore important to set this out clearly in the employment contract.

Where the new employee’s performance in the probationary period is unsatisfactory, a decision needs to be made whether to extend the probationary period or to terminate employment.



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