Mastering Probation Period: Your Essential Guide

Mastering Probation Period: Your Essential Guide

Table of content

  1. What is Probation Period?
  2. Why is the Probation Period important?
  3. Is the Probation Period covered by the Fair Work Act?
  4. How to terminate an employee during Probation Period australia?
  5. Streamline Probation Period management with Workstem

The probation period (probationary period) serves as a critical phase for both employers and employees to assess their compatibility for long-term collaboration. Typically lasting between three to six months, this period allows employers to evaluate an employee’s overall suitability for the role they were hired to perform.

In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the probation period and provide essential insights on how to make the most of this evaluation period.

What is Probation Period?

A probation period is a designated timeframe at the beginning of an employment relationship where the employer assesses the capabilities, reliability, and suitability of a new employee.

It serves as a trial period for both the employer and the employee to evaluate if the job and the company are a good fit. Here are the key points:

  • Purpose: The probation period allows the employer to assess the employee’s performance, suitability, and compatibility for the job.
  • Evaluation: During this period, the employer closely monitors the employee’s work, provides feedback, and evaluates their ability to fulfil the job responsibilities.
  • Duration: The length of the probation period is determined by the employer and can vary based on company policies and the nature of the job.
  • Contractual Obligations: Certain contractual terms may be modified during the probation period, providing flexibility for the employer to terminate the employee with shorter notice or without notice if performance or suitability is unsatisfactory.
  • Employee Entitlements: Employees on probation generally receive the same entitlements and benefits as permanent employees.
  • Confirmation or Termination: At the end of the probation period, the employer assesses the employee’s performance and decides whether to confirm their permanent employment or terminate their contract.

*Source: Probation

Why is the Probation Period important?

The probation period, also known as the probationary period, is an important element of employment contracts for several reasons. It offers benefits to both employers and employees, as outlined below:

Benefits of probation periods



Evaluation of Job Performance

Assess if new hires can effectively complete tasks and responsibilities Understand if the role aligns with expectations

Skill Assessment

Determine if skills match requirements Showcase skills and potential

Cultural Fit

Evaluate compatibility with company culture Assess compatibility with team dynamics
Early Issue Identification Identify and address problems promptly

Receive feedback and training for improvement

Flexibility in Termination Terminate with fewer legal and financial implications

Gauge job satisfaction and fit

Alignment of Expectations Ensure role meets employee’s career goals

Determine if responsibilities align with expectations

Is the Probation Period covered by the Fair Work Act?

The Fair Work Act 2009 does not cover probation periods. Probation is a contractual term set out in employment contracts, and there is generally no law governing probation periods.

The Act establishes a Minimum Employment Period based on the length of employment and the size of the business. Once this period is met, employees gain access to unfair dismissal protection.

For small businesses with less than 15 employees, the minimum employment period is 12 months, and for larger businesses, it is six months.

During the minimum employment period, employees can be terminated with written notice according to the relevant provisions of the National Employment Standards, industrial instruments, or the employment contract.

How to terminate an employee during Probation Period australia?

Terminating an employee during the probation period in Australia follows these steps:

Prepare a written notice of termination

  • Comply with the Fair Work Act 2009
  • Draft a written document stating the termination during the probation period
  • Make two copies: one for the employee and one for the company’s records
  • Include the end date of the probation period
  • Include a statement indicating the termination
  • Mention the date of employment termination

Gather supporting evidence

  • Collect evidence supporting the decision to terminate
  • Examples: performance reviews, attendance records, etc,.

Schedule a meeting with the employee

  • Arrange a face-to-face meeting before the end of the probation period

Notify the employee of termination

  • Conduct a private meeting with the employee
  • Provide feedback on performance and explain the termination decision
  • Offer the employee an opportunity to respond and address concerns
  • Provide the written notice of termination during the meeting
  • Clarify whether the employee is expected to work notice period or receive payment in lieu

File termination-related documents

  • Keep a copy of the written notice, meeting record, and supporting evidence in a designated folder
  • These documents can be useful in case of any claims or disputes in the future

Ensure compliance with legal requirements

  • Finalise outstanding payments and provide necessary entitlements

Offer support and assistance to the employee

  • Provide necessary information and resources to ease the transition period
  • Offer references or outplacement services if applicable

Streamline Probation Period management with Workstem

Workstem revolutionises probation management with its all-in-one HR and payroll system. Our powerful AI engine processes data in one centralised database, automating calculations and ensuring compliance.

Automate record-keeping, track hours, and calculate payments during probation with Workstem. Simplify processes, improve transparency, and optimise your HR practices.

Choose Workstem for seamless probation period management. Simplify evaluations and onboarding with our comprehensive platform. Book a demo now and discover the power of Workstem’s comprehensive solution.


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