18. Probation

18.1 Probation is the initial period of employment when the suitability of a new staff member (other than a casual) to have their appointment confirmed is determined. It provides an opportunity for the supervisor to determine whether a new staff member meets the standards required for confirmation of appointment. The staff member's employment offer will specify the period of the probation.

18.2  Probation entails setting and clarifying work performance standards for staff. During a probation period the University will offer appropriate support, development opportunities and feedback to assist the probationer to achieve confirmation of employment.

18.3  Confirmation of employment may be approved at any time during the probationary period. Employment will be deemed confirmed, and the probation period concluded, where a staff member is promoted or reclassified (professional staff) to a higher level during the probationary period.

18.4  Except in a case of serious misconduct, a probationer whose employment is annulled will be given notice in accordance with clause 55 (General notice periods).

Probation periods

18.5  The length of the probation period will be reasonable, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offer of employment and will not exceed the following:

Type of appointment Probationary periods
Academic staff fixed term Three (3) months for a contract up to twelve (12) months, six (6) to nine (9) months for others. No probation period required for second & subsequent employment for the same position. A new probation period applies for an appointment to a new position.
Professional staff fixed term Three (3) months for a contract up to twelve (12) months, six (6) months for others. No probation period required for second & subsequent employment for the same position. A new probation period applies for an appointment to a new position.
Academic staff continuing up to three (3) years initially, extendable to a maximum of four (4) years
Continuing (contingent funded) employment If on conversion to a continuing (contingent funded) employment contract, the staff member's fixed term appointment had been confirmed through a probation process no further probation period is required. Where appointed direct the academic continuing probation periods will apply.
Professional staff continuing up to six (6) months initially, extendable to a maximum of 9 months
Graduate Recruitment and Development Program Twelve (12) month probation for the development program referred to in clause 12 (Graduate Recruitment and Development program)
Student Internships Three (3) months

18.6  The University will ensure that ANU probation procedures are complied with in developing probation objectives, including required meetings between supervisors and probationers.

18.7 The University will ensure there are regular meetings scheduled between the supervisor and a probationer, that appropriate documentation is provided and that there is the opportunity for feedback. As soon as is reasonably practicable following a probation meeting, the supervisor will provide the probationer with written confirmation of the outcomes of the meeting.

18.8  Where the supervisor assesses that the probationer's performance, conduct and suitability are satisfactory, the supervisor will recommend to the delegate that the probationary period is completed.

18.9  Where the supervisor of a staff member is concerned about the performance or conduct of the staff member the supervisor will meet with the staff member as soon as is reasonably practicable to discuss these concerns. Where the concerns are serious in nature, the supervisor may forgo clause 18.9 and commence discussions as outlined in clause 18.10 below. For all other discussions, where relevant the supervisor will advise the probationer:

  1. that the performance standards have not been met and outline the deficiencies;
  2. that the probationer's performance, conduct and suitability will be closely monitored during a "review period" and outline the timeframe for the review period;
  3. of the expectations for improving in accordance with the performance standards; and
  4. that if the performance standards are not met the probationer's employment may be terminated (annulled).

18.10  Following the completion of the review period as outlined in clause 18.9 (b) ,if there is little or no improvement in the conduct or performance of the staff member or where there are serious concerns, the supervisor will work with the probationer on an improvement plan and timeline to assist the probationer to achieve the performance standards within the remaining probationary period. In setting the performance standards consideration will be given to:

  1. (a) the appropriate standards for the work levels in the Minimum Standards for Academic Levels (in Schedule 4) or professional Staff Classification levels (in Schedule 5);
  2. (b) the expectations of a new employee to the University;

18.11  Following the completion of the performance improvement plan as outlined in clause 18.10 above, the supervisor should assess whether the probationer's performance, conduct or suitability remains unsatisfactory based on a reasonable assessment of:

  1. The probationers performance against the performance standards; and
  2. any extenuating circumstances that may have impacted on the probationers performance.

18.12  Where the probationer's performance is unsatisfactory following the review period (clause 18.9), the supervisor must, at least 10 working days prior to the end of the probationary period, recommend to the delegate that either the employment be annulled or the probation period be extended up to the maximum period allowed under clause 18.5. In either of these circumstances, the probationer will be given a reasonable opportunity to seek further advice and respond to the supervisor's recommendation.

18.13  Following consideration of the supervisor's recommendation and any response given by the probationer, the delegate (or College Head / Divisional Director where the supervisor is the delegate) may recommend to the Director - Human Resources that the employment be annulled.

18.14  With consideration given to the supervisor's recommendation, the Director -Human Resources will then decide to either:

  • take no further action;
  • confirm the appointment
  • refer the matter back to the supervisor to ensure that all the steps above have been complied with in substance and in a manner appropriate to the circumstances;
  • extend the probationary period in accordance up to the maximum period allowed (clause 18.5) , in which case the Director - Human Resources shall arrange to provide to the staff member a statement as to the duration of the extended probation period and details of where their performance requires improvement; or
  • annul the appointment.

18.15  Where a staff member considers that the decision to annul their employment is unreasonable the staff member may seek a review under clause 78 - review of decisions. The staff members employment will not terminate prior to the review committee reporting its findings. The staff member will be suspended without pay pending the outcome of any review committee consideration, should their employment be reinstated, the University will pay the staff member an amount for the remuneration lost as a result of the suspension.