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Probationary employment

Last updated August 2023

This chapter explains the legal considerations of probationary or trial periods of employment when recruiting a new employee or placing an existing employee in a new role.

What is probationary employment?

Definition: Probationary Employment

Probationary employment is employment during which both employer and the employee understand they are ‘trying out’ the employment.

Probationary employment allows:

  • you to assess whether the employee is suitable for the organisation and the role for which they have been recruited; and
  • the employee to assess whether they want to continue in the role and work for you.
Tip: Employing someone on a probationary or trial basis reflects a mutual understanding between you and the employee about the nature of the employment.

Probationary employment typically involves:

  • a probationary period, usually starting at the commencement of employment with the employer or in the role; and
  • a notice requirement to end employment that is less onerous than the notice required for other employees.

You may consider probationary employment when:

  • recruiting someone into a permanent role;
  • promoting an employee;
  • redeploying an employee; or
  • a transfer of business occurs.