We ran an article a couple of years ago on Probation Periods and every month we get questions that indicate there is some confusion about probation periods and how they relate to the Minimum Employment Period (MEP).
Do you even need to have a probation period?
Historically, the Probation Period was a must-have clause in every contract to protect the employer from unfair dismissal. If that’s your only reason to have a probation period, you may as well delete it as the Minimum Employment Period takes care of that risk (see below).
Today, Probation Periods are an opportunity for both the employer and the employee to evaluate if there is a good fit for the role and the company culture. If used in this manner, there are some strong benefits in having a Probation Period:
- It is a commitment by the employer to a provide structured program for feedback, guidance and training in those critical early months, and assess competency and fit.
- Documenting the structured program makes the final decision clearer and provides evidence of fairness if a subsequent claim is made.
- It provides some latitude for the employee while they are learning the ropes and, at the same time, imposes a deadline to reach full competency.
The Probation Period does not exempt employers from contractual obligations, unlawful discrimination, or adverse action claims.
There is no set time period for probation but it needs to be reasonable in the circumstances. Usually it is three months for experienced recruits and internal promotions, and six months or more where there is a steep learning curve.
Minimum Employment Period (MEP)
The Fair Work Act (2009) introduced the MEP as six months for larger employers or 12 months for employers with fewer than fifteen employees. The Unfair Dismissal provisions of the Act cannot be accessed until the MEP has been completed.
Some important aspects to consider:
- The MEP is measured from day one and is independent of any probation period
- Even if the employee is still on probation, once the MEP is achieved they will have access to Unfair Dismissal remedies.
- The MEP does not exempt employers from contractual obligations, unlawful discrimination, or adverse action claims.
Extending the Probation Period
We get asked about this on a regular basis so thought we should mention some points to consider.
- You are obliged to abide by the terms agreed in the employment contract
- If it specifies a fixed term probation period, that is your commitment
- If it provides for an extension, you will still need the agreement of the employee
- If the probation period exceeds the MEP, you are exposed to Unfair Dismissal claims
As an alternative, a documented performance management program can be implemented at any time, probably with better results, and will give you a strong defence against any claims.
First Aid in the workplace is not something most workers have to think about, until it is needed. Managers, however, have a responsibility to ensure resources are on hand to cope with incidents whether they be minor mishaps or full-on emergencies. Although we don’t often promote other companies, and we are not affiliated with Alsco in any way, this range of free resources may be very useful to many of our customers and readers so we felt it was worth a mention.
First Aid in the workplace – The Model Code of Practice:
“The WHS Regulations place specific obligations on a person conducting a business or undertaking in relation to first aid, including requirements to:
- provide first aid equipment and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment
- ensure access to facilities for the administration of first aid
- ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.”
Free First Aid posters and guides
Alsco are one of the leading providers of linen, workwear and hygiene services, and Alsco First Aid Services promote safe environmental work practices and provide products that help make your workplace safer, healthier and greener. They aim to help you to maintain your WHS compliance by providing all your safety needs from fully stocked First Aid Kits to Safety Training Courses. As part of that aim, they have released a range of resources that you can download for free at Alsco First Aid resource materials
Included for free:
- High-quality, printable first aid signs and posters for your workplace
- An extensive glossary of useful first aid terms and phrases
- A first aid register to make recording workplace accidents easier
- A FREE eBook – the Beginner’s Guide To First Aid Workplace Compliance
Although they refer to their eBook as a “Beginner’s Guide” I found it to be a useful checklist for first aid compliance and risk management. Even if you are well acquainted with the requirements, you may find it useful as training tool for other staff.
Not surprisingly, there is some promotion of their other services for maintaining first aid kits, training programs and their learning management system but it is all low key and you may well be interested in what they can offer. Here’s that link again Alsco First Aid resource materials
CV Lies 2017
The latest update from The Risk Advisory Group, studied 5,000 resumes and found that 80% contained one or more inaccuracies, up by 10% on the previous year.
They do point out that “not all inaccuracies on CVs are malicious, but even the slightest anomaly can skew an employer’s judgement of a candidate’s skills, qualifications and experience”. However, they do report that 21% inflate their job titles to help their career progression and 12% falsify their grades.
And, they noticed an increasing use of virtual offices to provide fake references and employment history for individuals. They even cite one extreme case where an applicant set up a website for a fake school showing him as the captain of the cricket and rugby teams, and backed that up with a virtual office screening any calls for verification.
Significant Australian cases
- In 2016, Nurse Jennifer Anne Reed put elderly patients’ lives at risk because she had the power, but not the training, to administer potentially lethal medication. The District Court was told Reed’s almost 50-year history of fraud culminated in a scam that netted her $341,000 in undeserved wages from six different nursing homes.
Reed used another person’s legitimate qualifications to pull off her deception and pose as a registered nurse. Judge Muscat sentenced Reed to four years jail with a non-parole period of 14 months.
- In 2014, Andrew Flanagan landed a $400,000 package with Myer as the General Manager for Strategic and Business Development, a position based on an impressive CV in health, retailing and commerce and impressive referees. Fortunately, Myer terminated his position after just one day in the job following a tip-off that his CV was all lies.
During the recruitment process Quest Personnel checked Mr Flanagan’s credentials and interviewed two overseas referees purporting to be senior Inditex and Tesco executives. These too were fake.
Flanagan pleaded guilty to four charges related to positions he obtained by deception with Myer, Bendigo Health, Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry and The Speciality Fashion Group and was put on a three-year community corrections order.
What can you do?
The above statistics indicate that a significant number of the resumes that cross your desk are not to be trusted, but which ones? Fortunately, most dishonest applicants usually can’t withstand sensible scrutiny. This is where the RecruitPack Screening Questions are invaluable in sorting the wheat from the chaff, quickly and easily, before you waste your time considering the wrong people. The questions are framed in a specific way to solicit honest answers and deter the time-wasters. Then the applicant-specific Interview Guide helps you delve into the important issues for each candidate to give you insights into how they will perform in the role and in your environment.
If you have any concerns about hiring mistakes, and you should, have a look at how RecruitPack can help here.