Probation is dealt with in terms of the Code of Good Practice – Dismissal, contained in Schedule 8 to the Labour Relations Act (The Code). This document states the following:

“A newly hired employee may be placed on probation for a period that is reasonable given the circumstances of the job. The period should be determined by the nature of the job, and the time it takes to determine the employee’s suitability for continued employment.”

Any employer in any industry may require a newly hired employee to serve a period of probation before confirming the appointment of the employee.

In this article we will be covering how the probation period ought to be managed in order to ensure the success of the employee in a particular role should he/she successfully complete the probation period. Also, the probation period contributes to the success of the organization because if employees are succeeding in their roles, the organization will also be successful.

The correct way of managing the probation period

When managing the probation period, it is important to comply with the guidelines that are mentioned in the code. Below is a summary of the guidelines that are mentioned in the code.

Purpose of the Probation Period

The purpose of probation is to give the employer and opportunity to evaluate the employee’s performance before confirming the appointment.

However, The Code cautions against employers using the probation period as a means to deprive employees the status of permanent employment.

Duration of the Probation Period

The duration of the probation period should be determined in advanced and should be of reasonable duration. When determining the duration of the probation period, employers should take into consideration the nature of the job and the time that it usually takes to determine the employee’s suitability for continued employment.

Performance Assessments

During the probation period, the employee’s performance should be assessed. The employee should be given reasonable evaluation, instruction, training, guidance or counselling in order to allow the employee to render the employer a satisfactory service.

If the employer considers the employee’s performance to be below standard, the employer should advise the employee of such.

Extension of the probation period

The probation period may only be extended for a reason that relates to the purpose of probation. An employer may only extend the probationary period after the employer has invited the employee to make representations and has considered any representations made.

If the employer decides to dismiss the employee or extend the probationary period, the employer should advise the employee of his rights to refer the matter to a council that has jurisdiction or the commission.


The procedure leading to dismissal should include an investigation to establish the reasons for the unsatisfactory performance and the employer should consider other ways, short of dismissal to remedy the matter.


In this article it was evident that a probation period is not just a formality that should be included in employment contracts, but it is a process that should be properly managed to ensure the success of the employee in his/her role as well as the success of the organization.

For a free Probation Management policy, please visit our website to register and a free copy will be e-mailed to you.

For more information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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