Complete guide to resigning during a probation period

Beginning a new job is exciting, but it can also come with some anxiety and uncertainty. Employers also take a risk when they hire someone new, so they may choose to start an employee on a probation period. Consider this a trial run for both the employee and the company; the company can test out an employee’s skills and assess their work ethic, whilst they can decide whether this role and environment is right for them. If an employee decides during the probation period that they do not want to continue employment with the company, it is absolutely acceptable to resign, but there’s a few key protocols to keep in mind.  

What is a probation period? 

Some employers may choose to hire an employee on the preface of a probation period, in which they assess the suitability of the employee, and whether they possess the necessary skills and knowledge for the role. Probation periods can be for a fixed period of time (three to six months, or even one year), at the discretion of the employer. Alternatively, an employee may indefinitely be described as “on probation”. If an employee fails to perform at a satisfactory level, the employer may choose to terminate their employment during their probation period. 

What employee entitlements are awarded on probation?

During the probation period, employees are entitled to the same rights as other full-time or part-time employees, of which are outlined within the National Employment Standards. As a result, an employee on probation is always entitled to accrue and access their paid leave entitlements, such as annual leave and sick leave. If an employee fails to pass their probation period, they are still entitled to receiving notice when their employment ends, and must have all of their annual leave paid out. 

Can I leave a job during my probation period? 

Remember, a probation period is a trial for both an employee and the company! If the employee feels like the role is not for them, or they were offered alternate employment, it is perfectly acceptable to quit during the probation period. If an employee wishes to do so, they are still required to give their employer notice of resignation, unless stated otherwise in their employment contract. 

If an employee fails to provide notice of their resignation, the relevant modern award that applies to the employer’s organisation entitles them to withhold either up to one weeks wages, or the equivalent amount that the employee would have otherwise earned if they provided notice in the stipulated time period. 

On the other hand, if an employer wishes to terminate an employee’s employment within their probation period, they are also required to provide notice of the termination in advance. In some cases, employers may request that the employee leaves the company immediately, and instead offers “payment in lieu of notice” as compensation. 

What is payment in lieu of notice? 

A payment in lieu of notice is a sum of money received when employment is terminated and the employee is to finish immediately. 

There are various reasons as to why an employee may be provided with a payment in lieu of notice, such as: 

  • Employees that stay on for the next two to four weeks after being terminated may be detrimental to an organisation, any form or sabotage towards the organisation may occur, e.g., poaching of clients or release of confidential information towards competitors.
  • If an employee is not fulfilling a role to an organisation’s satisfaction, a payment in lieu of notice may be given out in order for them to be replaced immediately. 
  • If a position has been terminated and there is insufficient work for them to fulfil their specified role, a payment of lieu of notice may be provided (usually occurs with roles being made redundant). 

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Legal advice 

It is completely acceptable for an employee to resign during their probation period for whatever reason, but notice must be given. If you are still unsure about anything to do with probation periods, including employee entitlements and resignation options, our sister company, Legal Kitz, is here to help! You can request a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.

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