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Want to dismiss an employee on probation? Consider these four alternatives first

by , 20 January 2014
The Labour Court urges you to use dismissal as a last resort when you deal with employees on probation. So what are the alternatives to dismissal? Let's take a look...

The Labour Court is very clear on probation: Use dismissal as a last resort.

How do you do this?

Consider these four alternatives before you dismiss an employee on probation

'After the probation period has ended and there's still been no improvement, the Labour Court still urges you to look at other alternatives,' says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

You MUST investigate the reasons for the bad performance. And look at other ways to remedy the matter. For example, you may:

  1. Consider extending your employee's probation period;
  2. Give your employee hands-on training;
  3. Send your employee for a refresher training session; and
  4. Hold daily review meetings with your employee.

Important: In the case of the National Union of Mineworkers & another v Libanon Gold Mining Co Ltd (1994) 15 ILJ 585 (LAC), the Court said what was generally required was:

  • A full explanation of why an employee's conduct was not acceptable;
  • A proper discussion with an employee, his supervisor and his union as to whether and to what extent his post could be adapted; and
  • The extent to which he could be fitted into the workforce in another capacity either then or in the future'.

An employee on probation is no different from a longer serving employee

Remember, an employee on probation is no different from a longer serving employee. The Labour Relations Act says you must justify the dismissal of probationary employees the same way you'd justify dismissing any other employee.

This means you can't, at the end of the probation ask your employee to leave without arranging a formal hearing and considering whether dismissal is an appropriate sanction.

Here's a checklist for a fair probationary period

Checklist #1: Give employees a chance to state their case
Checklist #2: Follow a fair dismissal procedure even if your employee clearly failed to meet your standards
Checklist #3: Provide your employee with the necessary guidance and assistance
Checklist #4: Give the employee enough time to improve

Well there you have it. Consider the above mentioned alternatives before you dismiss an employee on probation. This'll help ensure you don't end up at the Labour Court.

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