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Procedures on Probation for Professional, Security, Grounds and Document Services staff

AMENDMENTS: September 2006
REVIEWED: September 2007
AMENDMENTS: Ausust 2011

  1. Application
  2. Overview
  3. Background
  4. Guidelines
  5. Responsibilities and/or authorities
  6. Cross references
  7. Further assistance

 


Application

These procedures apply to professional, security, grounds and document services staff employed in accordance with:

  1. The University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 2011
  2. Professional, security, grounds and document services staff employed pursuant to an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA), where a reference to this provision is specifically referred to in the AWA.

Overview

These procedures:

  1. reflect the preferred practices of the University and provide a guide to the application and management of probation for professional and general staff
  2. are consistent with the applicable industrial instrument (refers to the applicable Enterprise Agreement, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation).

For the purpose of this procedure, the term "staff" or "staff member" refers to professional, security, grounds or document services staff.

Background

The University actively supports staff career development. This commitment aims to strengthen the performance and capabilities of its workforce and to assist individuals to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for personal growth and professional advancement. Probation, Induction, Performance Management and Professional Development are all interdependent components of the University's policy and management practices that give formal expression to this commitment.

 

Guidelines

1. Basic Principles of Probation

1.1 All professional and general staff commencing employment with the University of South Australia will be subject to a period of probation.

1.2 Probation will be managed in accordance with the Probation for Professional, Security, Grounds and Document Services Staff Policy.

1.3 After a period of probation the University may confirm employment.

1.4 Employment may be terminated within the probation period by the giving of notice on either side (subject to the conditions in the section on Terminating Employment in these procedures).

2. Period of Probation

A period of probation is a useful extension of the recruitment process and should be implemented as a matter of course. Although a thorough and efficient recruitment process should ensure that the selection of the most appropriate candidate occurs in most cases, suitability and compatibility may not be determined until the candidate has commenced in the role.

The probation period is generally seen as a period of time where:

Subsequent appointments to positions that require substantially different functions for continuing staff and second or subsequent contracts that require substantially different functions for fixed-term staff may contain a probationary period where determined by the University. Casual staff moving into a continuing or contract positions, or fixed term staff re-engaged on a subsequent fixed term contract where the period of employment prior to the subsequent contract is less than three (3) months (refer to clause3.2) will be subject to a probationary period of up to three (3) months.

For security and grounds staff, subsequent appointments to positions for continuing staff and second or subsequent contracts for fixed term staff may contain a probation period where determined by the University.

The staff member's contract of employment and/or letter of offer must state that a period of probation will be undertaken and the length of this period.

3. Length of the Probation Period

3.1 Continuing Staff

On commencement of employment with the University, professional and general staff members will be engaged on an initial probation period of up to three (3) months. The immediate supervisor, upon advice of the Director: Human Resources and with the approval of the appropriate delegated authority, may negotiate a longer initial probation period with a new staff member prior to the commencement of employment. The period of probation will have regard to the complexity of the position.

3.2 Fixed term contract staff

A fixed term contract that is less than three months for a new staff member will contain a probation period for the duration of the contract. For a fixed term contract of greater than three months, the probation period will be three (3) months.

Where a staff member engaged on a fixed term contract has served the initial probationary period of up to three (3) months and has been subsequently appointed to a further contract that requires substantially different functions, the contract may contain a probationary period where determined by the University.

4. Managing Probation

Managing probation in an efficient and effective way benefits both the staff member and the University. A well managed process allows both parties to assess and make determinations about the employment situation. The guidelines below have been provided as a best practice method of managing the probation relationship.

4.1 Continuing Staff

Within two weeks of commencement with the University the immediate supervisor will establish a performance plan as outlined in the Performance Management Guidelines with the new staff member. This plan should contain clear outcomes and result areas and should relate directly to the staff members position description. The performance plan should address development needs of the staff member.

The staff member shall be made aware of the requirements of the position and the immediate supervisor's expectations. During the probation period, the staff member shall be provided with regular feedback from their supervisor in accordance with the University's Performance Management Guidelines as they apply to staff on probation, with respect to their capacity to discharge the responsibilities of the position and any other issues that arise during the probation period. Regular reviews of the performance plan shall occur during the probation period.

As part of the performance plan the immediate supervisor will establish an induction and development program for the staff member. The program shall include discussion of the duties and responsibilities outlined in the offer of appointment and familiarisation with the structure and decision making processes of the University, at the Division, School, Unit and University level.

The Formal Review

The immediate supervisor will conduct a formal review of the staff member in the beginning of the third month of probation. This review may be held earlier than the third month if appropriate.

The immediate supervisor will recommend to the Head of School/ Director of Research Institute/ Director of Unit/ Division Manager whether the appointment should be confirmed, terminated or the probation period extended (subject to Director: Human Resources approval). See sections 5 & 6 in this document on confirmation of employment and termination within a probation period for more information.

Unsatisfactory Performance

It is not necessary for the immediate supervisor to wait until the formal review early in the third month to make a determination about the suitability of the staff member. If the immediate supervisor considers the staff member's performance as unsatisfactory at any time during probation they should discuss it with the staff member. The immediate supervisor would normally provide any support necessary to help the staff member to improve performance.

If after a period of reasonable assessment and support the immediate supervisor still regards the staff member's performance as being unsatisfactory they may decide to recommend termination of the staff member's employment in line with these procedures.

Immediate supervisors should ensure that the timing of the formal review or any determination to terminate employment allows sufficient time to follow the process outlined in section 7 of these procedures.

4.2 Fixed Term Contract Professional and General Staff

Staff engaged on a fixed term contract will normally be managed in the same way as a continuing staff member; however the time lines and the induction program will vary depending on the length of the contract.

A staff member who is re-engaged on a subsequent fixed-term contract will continue to be subject to a probation period where the period of employment on any initial contract is less than three (3) months. In this event the probation period on subsequent contracts will continue until the minimum requirement of three (3) months is met.

5. Confirming Employment

Employment may be confirmed if the staff member is deemed suitable for the position after a period of probation is undertaken. The immediate supervisor will recommend to the appropriate authority (generally the Head of School/ Director of Research Institute/ Director of Unit/ Division Manager) that the staff member's employment be confirmed.

If supported the staff member will be informed that their employment is confirmed and their probation period has ended. This must happen prior to the completion of the probation period. Staff should receive written advice that their employment has been confirmed. This is normally issued by the local Human Resources area (templates are available on the HR Web Site).

The immediate supervisor must take care to ensure that the probation period does not elapse prior to an appropriate assessment of the staff member's skills and suitability for the position. Once the end date of probation has passed the staff member's employment is confirmed regardless of whether they have received written or verbal advice. Local HR Coordinators will review existing probations on a monthly basis and alert immediate supervisors of impending probation end dates.

6. Extending Probation

Extension of the probation period will only be considered in special circumstances and is subject to the approval of the Director: Human Resources. Any request to extend probation should be submitted early in the third month of probation to ensure that a decision is reached prior to the probation end date.

7. Terminating Employment During Probation

A fixed probation period does not require the University to keep a staff member in employment for the whole of the period if it is clear, on reasonable grounds, that the staff member is unsuitable for the position.

If a staff member is deemed unsuitable for a position for reasons of performance or conduct, the probation period may be terminated on the giving of two weeks notice on either side.

Payment may be made in lieu of notice.

Termination of employment can only occur through the process outlined below prior to the end of probation. If termination of employment is necessary after the end of probation has passed then the disciplinary procedures in the applicable industrial instrument must be followed.

7.1 The process of recommended termination within a probation period

The staff member should be managed in accordance with the processes in these procedures, ensuring that they are provided with appropriate induction, performance management, and development opportunities, prior to being deemed unsuitable for the position. If the employee is deemed unsuitable the following process will commence prior to the end of the probation period:

  1. The staff member shall be advised of, and given an opportunity to respond to, any adverse material which the University may consider in a decision to terminate employment.
  2. The immediate supervisor recommends to the Head of School/ Director of Research Institute/ Director of Unit/ Division Manager/Director: Centre for Regional Engagement that the employment of the staff member be terminated. The supervisor will be required to provide a written report to support their recommendation for termination.
  3. The Head of School/ Director of Research Institute/ Director of Unit/ Division Manager/Director: Centre for Regional Engagement should contact the local Human Resources Coordinator/contact to discuss the recommended termination of employment prior to any further action.
  4. If the case is supported by the Head of School/ Director of Research Institute/ Director of Unit/ Division Manager/Director: Centre for Regional Engagement they will make a written recommendation to the Pro Vice Chancellor/Executive Director that the employment of the staff member be terminated.
  5. If the case is endorsed by the Pro Vice Chancellor/Executive Director, they will make a written recommendation to the Director: Human Resources for approval to terminate employment.
  6. If termination of employment is approved, the staff member will be provided with a written communication confirming the termination of their employment allowing for a notice period of two (2) weeks. Payment may be made in lieu of notice.

8. Timelines in the Probation Process
 

Time frame Action
Week 1 Staff member commences.

Supervisor informs staff member of the University's Performance Management Framework.

Week 2 Supervisor works with staff member and implements a Performance and Development Plan for the probation period.
Month 1 Formal and written feedback is provided to the staff member.
Month 2 Formal and written feedback is provided to the staff member.
Month 3 In Week 1 of the third month a formal probation review is undertaken.
Recommendation to confirm or terminate employment, or extend probation is made in accordance with these procedures.

Recommendation to terminate employment should allow enough time for the staff member to respond to any adverse material being considered in the recommendation to terminate and the 2 weeks notice requirement (refer to 7.1 of the procedures for further information).


9. Appeals and Grievances

Staff members are referred to the Staff Appeals Policy (HR - 6.4) or procedures contained in the applicable industrial instrument (Collective/Enterprise Agreement, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation) with respect to grievances arising out of the probation process.

 

Responsibilities and/or authorities

Immediate Supervisor

The immediate supervisor is responsible for:

Staff Member

All staff are expected to:

Human Resources Coordinator/Contact

The local HR Coordinator/Contact is responsible for:

The Human Resources Unit

The Human Resources Unit is responsible for the development and continuous improvement of these guidelines.

 

Cross references

 

Further assistance

Management and staff may seek further advice from:

 

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