It is very common in most jobs for there to be a probationary period during which the employer reviews the new employee’s skills, abilities and attitude to determine if he or she is suitable for the job. Most companies and institutions offer guidelines for the probationary period, that the new employee must follow. The guidelines will include a termination process.
The new employee will sign a copy of the guidelines to prove he or she understands the conditions of the probation. If the company wants to dismiss the employee during the probationary period, the employer will send a probation termination letter to the new employee to inform him or her that the employment has ended.
It is very important for any business that has a probation period for new hires to have a legal probationary agreement. It can protect the human resource person from employing an unsatisfactory person and will protect the company from any legal liability from an unsuitable person.
Probation periods are not a separate period of employment. The employee has rights while on probation and may be entitled to access their paid leave. Probation periods may be given to new employees, current employees who are promoted to a new position and current employees who have performance problems and require a review of their work.
If a small business is creating probationary policies, there are some steps it can take to avoid legal risks:
• The employee should be notified how long the probationary period lasts and what the employer expects during that time including milestones or benchmarks.
• The employer should give regular counseling and feedback to the employee. Every meeting should be documented.
• The employer can offer training to the employee.
The probation time may be from 30 days to six months, and during that time, the employer will usually make every attempt to help a new employee adjust to the new job. The employer must make sure that the expectations it has for an employee are very clear.
The human resource person may meet the new employee regularly to go over a list of expectations, so the employee knows exactly where he or she stands in relation to the job. The employer may ask the new employee to sign the checklist every week to indicate that he or she understands the terms. The employee should which actions on his or her part could lead to termination during the probation period.
Before writing the probation termination letter, the employer or human resource person should review the employee’s evaluation report. This will give details and facts about the employee’s performance during the probation period. It should give an accurate account of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses in the job.
The person writing the letter should outline the substandard parts and make a list of the reasons the employee is not fulfilling the requirements. For example, a person who works in sales may include poor customer service skills or lack of sales. Any pertinent sections of the probationary guidelines should be highlighted.
For example, if the guidelines state that the employee must be on time to work and he or she has been late more often than not, it is a clear infraction of the terms of employment. With a list of infractions, the employer will be able to explain clearly why the employee is being terminated. The employee should be asked to sign the checklist.
The human resource person or employer should schedule a meeting with the employee to review the performance evaluation report and point out how the employee’s behavior fell short of the company’s expectations. The letter should clearly state when the last paycheck would be given and what items the employee needs to return to the company such as phone, computer, keys or security card.
It is important that termination letters are not inflammatory. To avoid this, the letter should only state facts and not scold or criticize the employee. If the facts are clearly presented, it will help prevent the employee from making a future wrongful dismissal claim. Terminating an employee at the end of a probation period is not a black mark for the employee. It merely shows that the job did not work out.
By Andre Bradley