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Dismissing an employee on probation


In June 2015 we posted an article on what steps employers need to take in order to legally dismiss an employee who is on probation. We continue to receive many requests for advice from employers that misunderstand the probation period and that are under the impression that it is easier to dismiss an employee who is on probation than a permanent employee.

The employer must assess the probationer’s performance regularly.

If the employer is not satisfied with the employee’s performance, the employee should be advised of any areas in which he may be failing to meet the performance standards. This can be done effectively during a performance meeting.

An employer can ONLY decide to dismiss an employee, OR extend the probation period, AFTER the employee has been given the opportunity to make a case as to why he should not be dismissed or why the probation period should not be extended. The employer should seriously consider the employee’s case.


There tends to be a common misconception that employees on probation have fewer rights than permanent employees, and that the employer can dismiss a probationer with very little regard to the procedure described above.

The fact of the matter is that this attitude of employers must change, as it is that very attitude which could end the employer up with a case of unfair dismissal.

An employer should treat a probationer exactly as it would any permanent employee facing dismissal.