The probationary period

Probation is close supervision, training and assessment of a new employee’s work performance during the initial period of employment. It is the first few weeks or months of a job, given the nature and circumstances of the employment. State and territory industrial laws may also have maximum probationary periods. Probation provides an opportunity to ensure the employee is:

  • suitable for the job and the farm
  • is meeting expectations
  • is learning tasks associated with the job correctly and safely

It also allows you to check in with how your employee is progressing on farm, and review or adapt their training as required.

Your responsibilities as an employer

Allow adequate time for feedback and discussion with your employee and ensure there is close supervision. It’s important your employee feels supported and the lines of communication are open.

Your employee should be aware of the expectations against which performance will be measured (both job-specific and more generally) before they take up the employment. This should be outlined in their position description and employment contract. A review is often held at the end of the probation period.

Prior to the review, you need to decide whether you wish to retain the new employee (during the probation period) – read more about the end of the probationary period. The best discussions and reviews encourage an honest exchange about how things are going from the perspective of both parties. A good employer is always a good listener and someone who takes time to encourage employees.

Encourage input

A new employee may suggest changes in the way things are done in your business – give some thought to how it might work. If it’s a good idea, implement it. If it’s not in the scope of your operation, explain why to the employee.

Here are two checklists to help guide you in conducting your probationary reviews: