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Probation (Professional Staff) procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure was approved by the Vice-Chancellor on 29 March 2004 and incorporates all amendments to 3 July 2017.

(2) This Procedure is pursuant to the Performance Management policy.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(3) This Procedure outlines the process to be followed by Professional staff and supervisors during a staff member's period of probation.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Procedure applies to continuing and fixed-term Professional staff and supervisors with Professional staff on probation. It does not apply to casual staff, staff on Senior Staff Performance Contracts or the Executive.

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Section 4 - Policy

(5) Refer to the Performance Management policy.

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Section 5 - Procedure

(6) All new Professional staff appointed to a continuing or fixed-term position will normally be required to serve a period of probation.

(7) The period and terms of probation are in accordance with the provisions specified in this procedure, the Deakin University Enterprise Agreement 2017 (EA) and the staff member's contract of employment.

Period of probation

(8) Professional staff appointed to a continuing position with the University are required to complete a six month probation period, unless otherwise specified in their contract of employment.

(9) The probation period for Professional staff appointed to a fixed-term position will normally be six months, however a lesser period may be specified in the staff member's contract of employment depending on the length of the fixed-term contract and the nature of the work to be performed by the staff member.

(10) A staff member appointed to a second or subsequent period of fixed-term employment is not normally required to serve an additional probationary period, unless the duties are substantially different from their initial fixed-term appointment and the staff member's initial fixed-term contract was for a period of less than six months. Where a supervisor is considering requiring a second period of probation, the supervisor must contact their HR Adviser, Human Resources Division (HRD) for advice before proceeding with that decision.

(11) In exceptional circumstances a Professional staff member's probationary period may be extended. Where a supervisor considers that an extension may be required, the supervisor must contact their HR Client Partner, HRD for advice. Any extension must be approved and communicated to the Professional staff member and the supervisor by the Executive Director, Human Resources prior to the expiry of the original probationary period.

Responsibilities of the supervisor during probation

(12) The supervisor is responsible for:

  1. setting clear probationary objectives;
  2. organising an initial meeting within the first week of the staff member's commencement of employment, to discuss the probationary objectives and to ensure that the performance and Probation Form - Professional Staff);
  3. scheduling all other formal probationary review meetings (see the Probation Form - Professional Staff - Critical Dates); and
  4. facilitating and encouraging ongoing regular dialogue with the staff member regarding their performance, which will include:
    1. monitoring the staff member's performance, behavioural and organisational fit;
    2. providing informal and formal feedback on a regular basis;
    3. providing appropriate development and support to assist the staff member make a successful transition to the University;
    4. maintaining a record of meetings, agreements and outcomes and providing copies to the staff member where appropriate; and
    5. contacting their HR Client Partner, HRD for advice in situations where they have any concerns in relation to the staff member's performance or behaviour.

(13) Prior to the end of the probationary period, the supervisor will determine whether the staff member has the right skills, knowledge and attributes to contribute constructively to the team and the University and will make a decision in relation to the outcome of probation in accordance with clauses 19 - 30 of this Procedure and clause 21 of the EA.

Responsibilities of the staff member during probation

(14) The staff member is responsible for:

  1. working towards meeting the performance and behavioural objectives set by their supervisor;
  2. participating actively in all probationary discussions with the supervisor; and
  3. providing feedback to the supervisor in relation to performance matters, including:
    1. seeking further clarification of expectations as required; and
    2. advising the supervisor of any concerns in relation to the achievement of their objectives should this arise during the probationary period.

Reviews during the probation period

(15) At each probationary meeting, the supervisor will review the staff member's development needs and provide feedback in relation to the staff member's performance and behaviour, as well as providing an opportunity for the staff member to raise any areas of concern.

(16) Where possible, these meetings will be conducted in person and the supervisor will document the discussions and any agreed outcomes.

(17) If the supervisor has concerns in relation to the development, performance or behaviour of the staff member at any stage throughout the probationary period, the supervisor must immediately contact their HR Client Partner, HRD for further advice and support.

(18) The supervisor and staff member should conduct formal probation reviews midway through the probation period and at least two weeks prior to the end of the probation using the Probation Form - Professional Staff).

Outcome of probation - confirmation of employment

(19) Where the supervisor considers the staff member has met their performance and behavioural objectives, the supervisor and the staff member must complete the Probation Form - Professional Staff) at least two weeks prior to the expiry of the probationary period.

(20) The supervisor must then submit the recommendation to confirm the staff member's employment to their Head of Organisational Unit for approval.

(21) If the Head of Organisational Unit approves confirmation of employment, the supervisor must then provide a copy of the form to their HR Adviser, HRD.

(22) HRD will provide written confirmation to the staff member regarding their continuing or fixed term appointment with the University.

(23) Any staff member whose employment is confirmed is required to participate in the Performance Planning and Review (PPR) process for the remainder of the PPR cycle. The staff member and the supervisor should complete the PPR (Professional Staff) form and utilise either the mid-year or end of year timeframes for review, depending upon the stage in the PPR cycle that probation is confirmed.

Outcome of probation - termination of employment

(24) A Professional staff member's employment may be terminated by the University at any stage during the probation period for any reason, including unsatisfactory performance, behavioural concerns, misconduct (after the staff member has an opportunity to respond to any adverse material that will be taken into account in any decision to terminate their employment) or serious misconduct.

(25) As per clause 21.3 of the EA, clause 65 (Unsatisfactory Performance), 66 (Misconduct and Serious Misconduct) and 67 (Review of Decision - Termination of Employment or Demotion) do not apply to Professional staff during their probationary period.

(26) Where the supervisor has concerns regarding the performance, conduct or behaviour of the staff member during probation, they must immediately contact their HR Client Partner, HRD for advice. In order for due process to occur, this should be no later than two weeks prior to the expiry of the staff member's probationary period.

(27) Where the supervisor is considering making a recommendation to terminate the staff member's employment upon or before the expiry of the period of probation, the supervisor (following advice from their HR Client Partner, HRD) will advise and provide the staff member with an opportunity to respond to any adverse material about the staff member that the University intends to take into account.

(28) The supervisor will consider any adverse material and any response by the staff member before deciding whether to recommend terminating the staff member's employment. A recommendation to not confirm probationary employment must be referred to the Executive Director, Human Resources who will decide whether to accept the recommendation.

(29) Where the Executive Director, Human Resources has determined that termination of employment during the probationary period is warranted, HRD will provide the staff member with a letter confirming termination of their employment.

(30) Except in cases of serious misconduct, where a staff member's employment is terminated at any stage during the probation period, the staff member will be provided with one week's notice unless a greater period is specified in their contract of employment. At the discretion of the Executive Director, Human Resources a payment in lieu of this notice may be made to the staff member. In cases of serious misconduct, the staff member’s employment may be terminated without notice.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(31) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. probation: an initial defined period of employment during which a supervisor closely monitors and assesses a staff member's performance and behaviour to determine whether there is an appropriate match between the person, the position and the work environment.