representing building managment, cleaning and security staff

PROBATION, TERMINATION AND THE LINK BETWEEN THEM

Workplace Relations Update from Workplace Advisory Group

PROBATION, TERMINATION AND THE LINK BETWEEN THEM

Most employers in Australia believe that employees can be sacked without notice and without reason during a probation period. The task of the BSCAA is to provide members with accurate advice on industrial relations matters so this article will do just that on this much-misunderstood issue!

Probation

  • How long can a probation period be? Maximum six months.
  • What happens if the employee has leave during the probation period? Paid leave (Sick Leave etc.) does not change the length of the probation period. Unpaid leave (e.g. where the employee has no accumulated sick leave but requests unpaid time off) results in the probation period being extended by the number of unpaid leave days taken.
  •  If the probation period is set at 3 months, can the employer change its mind and extend the probation period to the 6 month maximum? This can only be done if the employment contract/letter allows it or the employee agrees. If not then the employer is stuck with the original probation period.
  • If the employer is taking over a contract and picking up the existing cleaners can the employer insist on a probation period? The short answer is yes unless there is a requirement by the client not to do this.

Termination

  • Can an employee be sacked without notice during a probation period? No unless there is really serious misconduct involved. The minimum notice (1 week) must be given or paid in lieu.
  • Can the employee be sacked without a reason during the probation period? This is tricky. BSCAA recommends that where an employee is terminated during probation that the employer gives a weeks notice (or pays it in lieu) and informs the employee that the employment relationship has not worked out to the satisfaction of the employer. No further information is required to be given.
  • If an employee has gone one day over the probation period can the employee’s employment be terminated using the words about “not working out”? Sorry, but the answer is no. Once the probation period has expired the normal rules apply.

Written by Mark Diamond, Workplace Advisory Group: December 2018