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Probation: watch out for procedures

Date posted: 08.05.2014 | Author: Harry Bovensmann

Probation is the best way to see whether someone will be able to live and execute the vision of the business and meet the job requirements. If after the probation period it is obvious that the employee is not the right fit for the position, the services can be terminated.

During the probation period it is advisable to document what the employee has failed to do, what you have done to help and why the decision to dismiss has been taken.

During the probation a worker should have access to:

  • Detailed job requirements and a letter of appointment that clearly sets out the consequences of inadequate performance;
  • Evaluation, instruction, training, guidance or counselling during the probationary period. These sessions should be recorded and become part of the employee’s file;
  • The reasons why someone is being terminated during the probationary period, if applicable.

If permanent staff fail to meet requirements, disciplinary action may be the only way forward. 

As this can result in dismissal, it is vital that the correct procedures are followed which include: 

  • Advising the employee that the performance is lacking;
  • Putting in place and documenting a performance improvement process that outlines clear targets, feedback and the development required.

If there is no improvement, it could be necessary to move on to a disciplinary process. At this stage, up to three verbal warnings can be issued to the employee, who should be given opportunities to improve at each stage. You must keep a record of these. 

Employees’ rights

If an employee is dissatisfied with a work-related matter, they have the right to lodge a grievance with their immediate manager. If the grievance is not attended to, it can be escalated through the company to the CEO. Failure to deal with the matter effectively can then result in it being referred to a bargaining council or the CCMA for resolution.

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