Can I leave a job in the probation period?

When you walk in for an interview you are naturally excited about the prospects of working in a new environment and engaging with new challenges. In the interview you might get along with your new colleagues like the best of friends and think to yourself, I think I am going to really enjoy working with these people. Your first day at your new job comes along and you have one of the best workdays you ever had, and you feel like you have landed your dream job.

Fast-forward one month and you realise these new experiences and challenges were not so life-changing and you wish you had your old job back. You are wondering whether you can resign during your 6-month probationary period, and what happens to your entitlements? This Business Kitz article will answer those questions.

What is a probation period?

Before we answer those questions though it is necessary to understand exactly what probation is and its purpose. Probation signifies the start of an employee and employer relationship. Another word that could be used interchangeably with probation is trial. In essence, probation is the start of the relationship but it is also the trial period where the employer is given an opportunity to assess how the employee performs in their new role.

It is all about trying to determine whether the candidate for the position is suitable. In most cases, the probationary period lasts for a period of 6 months, from the commencement date of the candidate’s employment. For some industries and some types of jobs, the probationary period is set at 3 months. To find out what your period of probation is, you should look at your employment contract.

Do I have access to benefits whilst on probation?

As an employee, it is important to remember whilst you’re on probation, you still are entitled to all the benefits that other employees receive. This means that your annual leave, sick leave and benefits or entitlements continue to accrue and are in no way impacted by your probation. To understand more about your entitlements and the National Employment Standards, it is worth visiting here.

As stated above probation is basically a practice run for the employer and employee. Therefore you do not need to worry about the notice period in most industries. However, before you hand in your resignation to your employer, you should check your employment contract to see exactly what your obligations are. You should be able to get access to your contract by asking for a copy from your employer. In every employment contract, there is a notice period that is provided for by the national awards. In addition, the contract will set out clauses that relate to termination and the disciplinary process, which may become relevant in the event you are unfairly dismissed.

The type of award that you have is important because different industry standards will apply. In some high staff turnover industries, employees only must give their employer a week of notice and still receive their entitlements, whilst others are usually 2 weeks.

How do I resign during a probation period in Australia?

If you are certain that the right step for your circumstance is to resign, you should consider the following process. Firstly, you should write out a letter of resignation. Secondly, if possible, you should hand deliver it to your boss or employer, or alternatively, you should post it to your employer’s address. Finally, as a last resort, you should email your resignation to your employer.

What is payment in lieu of notice?

The phrase ‘in lieu of notice’ is a payment, that is in place of completing the remaining notice period that is stipulated in the employment or the remaining time left in the employee’s notice period. What the time provides is a mechanism where instead of having the employee complete their final two weeks at the company, they are simply paid out and their resignation or exit from the business is effective immediately.

There are several reasons why using such as avenue is a serious consideration:

–   Letting the employee work out the rest of their contract or notice period may have a negative effect on the business.

–   It may be better to move them from the position and get a new person in the role as soon as possible.

–   The position of the employee has been redundant and there is no need or demand to have them work in their capacity as an employee.

Again, it is important to carefully read through your employment contract. It is likely to have payment in lieu of notice in the agreement. Having knowledge of this agreement is very important in case you wish to seek such payment. The Australia Government Fair Work Ombudsman has valuable information on the condition around in lieu of notice.

If you are due to receive an in-lieu payment, it is worthwhile to maintain consistent communication with your employer, to understand the exact particular of your payment, such as your award, service to the company, and final pay summary. This is important so you do receive less than you were expecting, however, if you do you should immediately contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or filing a claim through Fair Work Commission.

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Legal advice

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