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Probation is for newly appointed employees only. The purpose of probation is to establish whether or not the appointee’s performance is of an acceptable standard before permanently employing the employee.
The amendment confirms that the purpose of probation is to give the employer an opportunity to evaluate an employee's performance before confirming an appointment.
It is made clear that probation should not be used for other purposes, for example, to deprive employees of the status of permanent employment.
Probation periods should be reasonable. This will depend on the nature of the job, which in turn will determine how long it will take to establish whether the employee is performing satisfactorily or not.
As a general guideline, the more complex the nature of the job, the longer the probation period, eg. only a month may be needed to evaluate the performance of a cleaner, but four months may be appropriate for an accountant.
Probation periods may be extended, within reason, where the employer is not convinced that the employee is performing to the required standard. It is advisable that the probationary period be stated in writing (eg as part of the employment contract or letter of appointment) and that the company’s expectation during the probation period be communicated clearly and are understood by the employee.
Should the probation be extended, it should once again be done in writing.
Date: 12th August 2014
Legislation: Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995