Probation period is the period of time at the start of an employment when an employer evaluates and assesses the ability, competence and suitability of the employee for the role. Probation period can also be seen as a coaching or training opportunity where the new recruit learns the new job.
The employee on probation may be dismissed with little notice if they’re found to be unsuitable for the role allowing the employer to take action more quickly if they feel that the new recruit is not suitable for the role.
- What is a Probationary Contract?
The Employment Act defines a probationary contract as a contract of employment, which is of not more than twelve months’ duration or part thereof, is in writing and expressly states that it is for a probationary period.
- Probationary Period
The probationary period should not be more than six months but it may be extended for a further period of not more than six months with the agreement of the employee. A probationary contract should not exceed twelve months.
A probationary contract can only be extended on grounds of non-performance or unsuitability for the job. The court in the case of Wilson Simiyu Vs Chairman B.O.G Friends School Bokoli & Another (2016) (eKLR) stated that extension of a probationary period can only be for grounds of non-performance or non-suitability for the job, both of which cannot be presumed, but must be brought to the attention of the employee who must agree to the extension as provided under section 42 of the Employment Act.
- Termination of a Probationary Contract
A probationary contract may be terminated by giving not less than seven days’ notice of termination, or by payment of seven days’ wages in lieu of notice. The employer does not have to give reasons for the termination.
- Employment Benefits during Probationary Period
During the probation period, person is not entitled to the usual legal rights and benefits of employment such as leave and off days.
However, statutory deductions such as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and Pay as You Earn (PAYE) should be deducted and remitted.