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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part A : Commencing Employment

9. Probation




Probation involves the trial period for a new employee where the employer assesses the employee's ability and skills to function in the position in order to determine whether to offer the employee a permanent position.




The probation period can either undermine or support an employee from a designated group. An employer should provide the necessary organizational support to ensure that the new employee is successful. An employer should consider the initial work allocation given to a probationary employee to ensure that the new employee can cope with the demands of the new workplace.




9.3.1 An employer should ensure that probationary employees8 from designated groups are not subjected to unfair discrimination. This can be done by ensuring that managers treat them fairly and consistently. There should be a written probation policy that clearly sets out the roles and responsibilities of the employee and company policies and procedures. These could include the expected performance standards; the frequency and form of performance reviews; the procedures the probationary employee should comply with when raising problems or grievances; the nature of support, mentoring and training and development.


9.3.2 An employer should ensure that managers understand the need for consistent fair treatment of all probationary employees in order to avoid unfair discrimination and perceptions.


9.3.3 Where an employee from a designated group requests reasonable accommodation during the probationary period, the employer should, as much as possible, provide it. Failure to provide reasonable accommodation may be construed as unfair discrimination.


9.3.4 Managers should, where relevant and appropriate, provide regular supervision and guidance to probationary employees, including training and counseling, to improve performance. Managers should keep records of their discussions with probationary employees, as it may provide useful data about an employee's movement in the employment equity planning and measurement process. Information used to make decisions about employees should be reviewed, signed and dated by the employee. If the employer has a human resources department, this department should be informed of issues concerning the probationary employee's performance.


9.3.5 By conducting an audit of policies and practices, an employer may identify barriers in the probationary process that impact on designated groups. Strategies to remove these barriers may then be developed and incorporated into the Employment Equity Plan.


9.3.6 An employer may consider keeping a record of the number of employees from designated groups who are not appointed at the end of their probationary period and compare this to probationary employees from non-designated groups. This analysis may indicate the existence of problems in a particular department or with a particular manager. Corrective measures can then be undertaken. To the extent possible, exit interviews may be conducted of probationary employees who are not appointed in order to identify barriers in the process or perceptions of unfair discrimination. Record keeping can facilitate measurement of employment equity progress and may enable an employer to identify problems with retention of designated groups.




9.4.1 Induction - The links mentioned in the induction section are equally applicable to probation.


9.4.2 Performance management - success during probation is often associated with meeting the employer's clearly specified and objective performance standards according to which regular evaluations of the employee's performance are conducted.


9.4.3 Mentoring and Development - An employer may consider mentoring, coaching and training interventions to support employees from designated groups during the probationary period.



8 See Item 8 of Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act: The Code of Good Practice on Dismissal