10 Steps to legally dismiss an employee on probation

Taryn Strugnell, Managing Editor, Labour Watch Newsletter, 21 Apr. 2015

Tags: performance management for probation, dismiss your employee on probation, employee on probation, dismiss employee on probation..

So you hired the 'perfect' candidate... Or so you thought. He just isn't pulling his weight, and now you need to take action against him. But how?

You know you can't just dismiss him - even if he is on probation! Today I want to share 10 steps you need to follow to make sure you dismiss your employee on probation fairly... Keep reading below for these steps.

Follow these 10 steps to start the dismissal process

Use these steps to start the process to dismiss an employee on probation:
1. Clarify and communicate the performance standards to him.
2. Evaluate his performance: Make sure you give him proper instruction on his tasks and how you want them done.
3. Give him training: But if you hired him because of his qualifications, then you don't have to give training.
4. Give ongoing guidance to help him meet the standards.
5. Counsel him on poor performance. Try solve the problems together and come to a joint agreement on how to move forward.
6. Work with him to identify the reasons for poor performance.
7. Develop a plan of action with him to fix the problems.
8. Give him reasonable time to improve his performance. Be realistic about the time he can improve in.
9. Only consider dismissal if you've used all reasonable ways of getting him to improve.
10. Give him a chance to explain himself before you dismiss him.
Just remember though, you can't simply tell the employee he hasn't made the grade. 
Read below to find out what you must remember before dismissing employees on probation.

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Compiled by the same team that brings you the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf as well as 13 labour and HR experts, it'll give you everything you need to effectively and legally deal with your poor performer. The checklists, templates and information provided will make the whole process easy, quick and stress-free.
Make sure you do the following before dismissing employees on probation
  • You must put employees on probation for a reasonable period;
  • You must manage the employee's performance proactively and give feedback and support;
  • You must give the employee enough time to improve and invite him to make representations before deciding to dismiss; and
  • You must have a fair reason for dismissal, although less compelling.
  • You must always keep a paper trail of all plans, discussions, counselling etc. so you can prove everything you did, if you need to at the CCMA.
You can only extend the probation period or dismiss him after you invite him (or his trade union or a fellow employee representative) to make representations and you've considered these. 
If you dismiss an employee on probation you must (as in any dismissal case) have a fair reason for the dismissal. Tell the employee he can challenge the fairness of the dismissal by referring a dispute to the CCMA or relevant bargaining council.

P.S. Back by popular demand... The Excel for HR Workshop is coming to Johannesburg on 19 May... Email your name with "Excel for HR Workshop" in the subject line to seminars@fsp.co.za, and you'll be the first to know when bookings open!




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