At the end of the probationary period

As the probationary period nears its conclusion, you will need to decide whether you wish to retain the new employee or not – and if so, what other steps may need to be taken.

How it is going…

Recommended actions

The new employee is great and fits in well. He or she clearly can, or has the potential to, do the job well.

Let the employee know that they are going well and that at the end of the probationary period, you intend to confirm their contract.

The new employee fits in well and has a good attitude to work but has some deficiencies or gaps in skills or knowledge.

Tell the employee you would like to keep them on at the end of the probationary period, on the understanding they do some training in some areas. This may be possible within the existing contract – in which case, the contract comes into effect at the end of the probationary period. Alternatively, you may wish to make a change to the contract.

The new employee fits in well and has a good attitude to work but doesn’t seem to have the attributes required for the job.

If someone fits in well and has a good attitude, it’s a shame to lose them. On the other hand, if they can’t do the job they could be a liability. Reconsider your whole farm needs. Can you reorganise things so they can do a different job, with someone else taking up some of the tasks the new person can’t manage? Discuss this with your new employee and with other farm workers before making any decisions. A new contract may be needed. It is time to conduct a job analysis.

It’s just not working out. The recruit has not fitted in, has bad work attitudes and has not shown any interest in trying to improve.

If you have given the person a fair chance and offered reasonable support, then you should be within your rights to dismiss the person, as long as the probationary period has not expired. Notify the new employee verbally at the time of the review that they will not be kept on and confirm it in writing (see below).

As an employer, you have several options open to you as the probationary period draws to an end. If you have decided to terminate the employee’s employment during the probationary period, you are required to provide written notice of termination.

Download an unsuccessful probation letter template (which also explains the process involved).

If the employee has been employed with you for 6 months or more (even if they are on probation), there are additional steps you may need to take before you terminate their employment.

See the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code for more information.

Of course, the probationary period also offers the new employee the opportunity to decide whether the position is suited to them. You need to be prepared for the possibility that the employee decides they do not want to stay, or that they want some changes to their terms and conditions.

If the employee decides to leave, ask them for some time to give you feedback on why they decided not to stay – an ‘exit interview’. Exit interviews should be recorded and used for identifying areas to improve next time you go through the recruitment process and conduct a job analysis for this position. Read more about exit interviews.

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