2.5.2.  Probation

Policy

Upon initial appointment, transfer and promotion, employees normally serve a probationary period of six months.


Questions And Answers

  1. What is the purpose of a probationary period?
  2. When is a probationary period required?
  3. Can a probationary period be longer than six months?
  4. When is an employee informed of the probationary period?
  5. What are a manager's responsibilities regarding probation?
  6. What are an employee's responsibilities during probation?
  7. How can a probationary period be extended?
  8. When is it appropriate to reject an employee on probation?
  9. What are the probationary employee's options for redress?
  10. What is the process for designating excluded classifications or positions for an extended probationary period?

Questions And Answers

1. What is the purpose of a probationary period?

The probationary period should be regarded as an extension of the assessment process which led up to the appointment. The probationary period is an opportunity to assess the employee's ability to perform the position functions to standard as well as the employee's personal suitability in the work environment. This assessment must be completed before the probationary period ends.

The probationary period also gives the new appointee time to adjust to new duties in a new environment.

2. When is a probationary period required?

A probationary period is required in the following situations:

  • initial appointment to a position
  • promotion
  • lateral transfer to a position where the new responsibilities are so significantly different from previous duties that they require different skills and abilities.

A probationary period may be waived in the following situation:

  • The employee has acted in the position for six months or longer
  • An employee is appointed to a position after completing probation as an underfill appointment in that position
  • An employee makes a lateral transfer to a position with similar duties and responsibilities
  • An employer initiates a transfer or reassignment of an employee from one position to another for any reason
  • Employees promoted within position without competition as a result of reclassification are not required to serve a probationary period
  • Employees appointed from the Re-employment List do not serve a probationary period. These employees serve a trial period. See GEMA 24:26 and draft Re-Employment Policy, 2.1.2, Q7.

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3. Can a probationary period be longer than six months?

Yes. The probationary period of a bargaining unit employee may be extended more than once as long as the total length of probation does not exceed twelve months. The probationary period of an excluded employee may be extended beyond twelve months in exceptional circumstances. Extensions to the probationary period must be approved by the Deputy Minister or designate prior to the completion of the probationary period.

4. When is an employee informed of the probationary period?

The employee must be informed in the letter of offer that the probationary period is a condition of employment. The letter of offer must advise the employee of the duration of the probationary period. This applies to lateral transfers as well as promotions and new appointments. Managers and human resources should be aware that a probationary period cannot be imposed without the employee's consent after the employee has been appointed if this condition is not outlined in the offer of employment.

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5. What are a manager's responsibilities regarding probation?

Managers' responsibilities during the probationary period include:

  • informing the new employee, verbally and in writing, of the performance expectations and standards that are being evaluated during the probationary period
  • orientating and training new employees to their new duties
  • monitoring performance and providing performance feedback and coaching
  • informing the employee when the probationary period has ended
  • advising the employee as early as possible if an extension to the probationary period is required
  • documenting a rationale for any request to extend the probationary period
  • notifying the employee, verbally and in writing, of any approved extension to the probationary period
  • consulting with Human Resources as early as possible on situations where extending probation or rejecting on probation may be necessary.

6. What are an employee's responsibilities during probation?

A probationary employee has the following responsibilities:

  • meeting the performance standards for the position
  • meeting the organization's standards for conduct, including attendance standards
  • demonstrating suitability for the position and compatibility with peers and clients.

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7. How can a probationary period be extended?

The Deputy Minister or designate approves extensions to the probationary period. This approval must be obtained and communicated to the employee before the date when probationary period ends. The request for an extension includes the following:

  • the date of appointment to the position
  • the type of appointment (transfer, promotion...)
  • reasons for requesting the extension (selection criteria not demonstrated, performance deficiencies, remedial measures taken, limited opportunity to demonstrate suitability due to casual or part-time work)
  • the length of extension requested
  • the type of employee development efforts planned for the extended probationary period.

8. When is it appropriate to reject an employee on probation?

Rejecting an employee on probation must be for cause. This standard is lower than the just cause standard for terminating regular employment and can include the following situations:

  • the employee is unable to perform the position duties to standard, even after training, regular performance feedback and opportunities to improve
  • the employee proves to be incompatible with the nature of the workplace, with other employees in the workplace or with the organization's standard of conduct
  • the employee is rejected for disciplinary reasons. Note: a notice period may not be necessary in this circumstance.

Before rejecting an employee on probation, the manager should examine all possible mitigating factors which contributed to poor performance, particularly factors beyond the employee's control. The manager should document performance and consult Human Resources prior to notifying an employee of rejection on probation.

The probationary employee must be notified of the decision to reject on probation prior to date when the probationary period ends.

Because the decision to select the employee was a management decision, a manager has some responsibility to an employee rejected on probation:

  • A new employee rejected on probation receives two weeks notice or pay in lieu
  • Civil servants rejected on probation following promotion from within a department are relocated to their former position or a comparable position
  • A civil servant rejected on probation following a promotion to another department is treated in accordance with GEMA 13:07 or the Civil Service Regulations 15(3)

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9. What are the employee's options for redress?

An employee may grieve a decision to extend a probationary period. A decision to reject an employee on probation can be grieved but is not appealable or arbitrable. See GEMA 13:05-13:06

10. What is the process for designating excluded classifications or positions for an extended probationary period?

In order to establish an extended probationary period for a specific excluded classification or a specific excluded position, Human Resources must make a formal written submission to the Civil Service Commission Board. The submission outlines the reasons for a probationary period longer than the normal six months and recommends a duration for the probationary period for that specific classification or position.


Comment Boxes

Documented Performance

In order to support a decision to reject on probation and to demonstrate that an employee has been treated fairly, the information on file should include:

  • the manager's expectations of the employee and evidence that the employee was aware of these expectations
  • a record of results achieved (and not achieved) during the probationary period
  • the manager's efforts to assist the employee
  • records of discussions related to the employee's performance.
Probationary Period A probationary period refers to a period, normally 6 months, following appointment during which the employee's performance and suitability are assessed. At the end of the probationary period, the employee is either appointed to the position or rejected on probation.
Trial period Future link to Re-Employment Policy,2.1.2, Q7

Authority

Policy Effective September 17, 1997


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