The CCMA (Commissions for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) is an independent juristic forum that helps to resolve labour disputes between the employee and employer.
In South Africa, probation is regulated by Schedule 8 of the LRA (Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995).
What is probation period?
In terms of clause 8 of Schedule 8 (Code for Good Practice) in the LRA, the employer may hire an employee to serve a probation period, before the employment of the employee is confirmed permanent.
The aim for probation clauses are to evaluate the newly appointed employee’s abilities to ascertain if the employee is fit and proper to perform their duties in the work place and should not be used to deprive employees from permanent employment.
What is the Employer’s Guideline?
Employers can appoint employees on a probation period or a permanent basis. Many business owners and managers choose to appoint employees on a probation period to first evaluate the employee’s abilities. This period may vary depending on the nature of the business, position held by the employee, industry etc but 3 months seems to be the norm.
During the probation period, the employer should provide the employee with the necessary guidance, training and evaluation and it is important that the employer explain to the employee exactly what standard is required of him/her during this probation period.
If the employer is satisfied with the employee’s abilities after the 3 (three) months’ probation period, the employer can appoint the employee on a permanent basis.
If the employee is underperforming, the employer should immediately set up consultation meetings with the employee to discuss and explain the employee’s shortcomings and set further goals that the employee can work towards to improve his/her performance.
If the employer feels that the employee is still underperforming after the consultation meeting/s and the 3 (three) months’ probation period has expired, the employer can consider terminating the employees services or the extension of the probationary period.
The Code of Good Practice set out the following guidelines for dismissal for poor work performance:
” Any person determining whether a dismissal for poor work performance is unfair should consider:
- whether or not the employee failed to meet a performance standard, and
- if the employee did not meet a required performance standard whether,
- the employee was aware, or could reasonably be expected to have been aware of the required performance standard, and
- dismissal was an appropriate sanction for not meeting the required performance standard “
In conclusion, the employee should have the opportunity to provide reasons as to why dismissal should not be the appropriate sanction but the ultimate decision remains with the employer.
The employer bears the burden and should prove to the Commissioner that a fair process had been followed. The CCMA will further require evidence to substantiate the fairness of the dismissal ea. whether the employee received training to achieve his/her goals and improve their performance.
Please contact your nearest CEOSA office should you require advice on the abovementioned.
Article by: Chandre Heyns
CEO Dispute Resolution Official – Klerksdorp