Policy University Management Professional and Technical Staff Probation Procedure

Professional and Technical Staff Probation Procedure

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To outline the procedure for managing probation at James Cook University.


This Procedure applies to all newly appointed, continuing, and fixed-term professional and technical staff at James Cook University (‘JCU’, ‘we’ or ‘our’) who are subject to a probation in accordance with the provisions specified in this Procedure, the James Cook University Enterprise Agreement (Enterprise Agreement), and the Staff Member's contract of employment.

This Procedure does not apply to: (i) casual staff; (ii) fixed-term appointments of less than three months; and (iii) where a continuing Staff Member is seconded to another position in the University, and they have already completed their initial probation.


For a comprehensive list of definitions, please refer to the Human Resources Policy Glossary.


This Procedure stipulates the requirements for undertaking probation as part of commencement to a role. The purpose of undertaking probation activities is to enhance the employment experience and support staff in establishing positive relationships and successful engagement. The probationary period assists in determining whether there is an appropriate match between the individual and the role specifically, and at JCU.

Successful probation at JCU requires documented evidence that a Staff Member can successfully undertake the responsibilities and perform at expected standards as required for the position and uphold JCU’s values and Code of Conduct.


1. Period of Probation

1.1 Professional and Technical staff are appointed subject to a probationary period (normally six months) as detailed in the terms and conditions of the contract of employment and as aligned with the Enterprise Agreement.

1.2 During the probation period the Staff Member’s Supervisor will provide the following:

a. A Probation Plan prepared at the start of employment;

b. Interim Review/s, as required;

c. Final Probation Review conducted before the end of the probationary period.

1.3 Casual Staff who are converted to a Fixed-term or Continuing appointments under the Enterprise Agreement and/or relevant legislation, may have their probationary period shortened or waived with the approval of the relevant Deputy Vice Chancellor.

1.4 Periods of approved unpaid leave (such as leave without pay or unpaid parental leave), taken during the probationary period do not count as service for the purposes of probation and may result in an adjustment to the probation date completion.

1.5. Staff entering a new or subsequent fixed term employment contract are not required to serve an additional probationary period provided that;

a. there has not been a break in service between the immediately preceding contract of employment and the new contract; and

b. a probation period in a preceding contract of employment has already been successfully completed; and

c. the duties under the immediately preceding contract of employment are not substantially different.

1.6 Where a Staff Member resigns from their current position and is appointed to a substantively different position a period of probation may apply. This will be determined by the Head of Work Area in conjunction with Human Resources

2. During the Probation Period

2.1 During the probationary period the Supervisor will work with the Staff Member to ensure:

a. Mutual understanding of the expectations of performance in relation to role accountabilities consistent with the Position Description (PD) and Position Classification Descriptors.

b. Consideration is given to achievement relative to opportunity;

c. That JCU’s Values and the Code of Conduct are demonstrably upheld;

d. Completion of JCU’s mandatory suite of training as is relevant and applicable (including, and not limited to, for instance: JCU’s Respect Now, Always training and any relevant Work Health and Safety training);

e. Regular feedback regarding responsibilities and expected standards of performance during the probationary period, as consistent with the PD and Position Classification Descriptors;

f. The necessary tools and training are in place to assist in achieving the Performance   Objectives set out in the Probation Plan.

3. Interim Reviews

3.1 The purpose of an interim review is to ensure that the necessary support and opportunities for collaboration are provided to the Staff Member to facilitate successful fulfilment of the agreed Probation Plan;

3.2 Interim reviews take place via a scheduled meeting and the Supervisor will document the discussions and any agreed outcomes as necessary;

3.3 The Supervisor will create an opportunity for open and transparent conversations in the interim review meeting, and any concerns in relation to the role, performance, development, or behaviour may be raised by either the Staff Member or the Supervisor;

3.4 Where performance concerns are identified;

a. they should be raised with the Staff Member as soon as possible, and interim reviews may take place more regularly;

b. the Supervisor should contact the HR Business Partnering Team for advice and support;

c. a clear statement of the issues and required improvements will be provided to and discussed with the Staff Member;

d. discussions will include any assistance that the Supervisor will provide to help the Staff Member to meet performance expectations;

e. the Staff Member will have an opportunity to respond to the Supervisor regarding the issues raised;

f. the Supervisor will continue to monitor and document the standards of performance throughout the probationary period.

4. Supervisor’s Responsibilities

4.1 The Supervisor is responsible for:

a. Organising an initial meeting at the outset/commencement of employment to discuss and document in a Probation Plan the role requirements and expected standards of performance consistent with the Position Description.

b. Scheduling other interim review meetings as required, and

c. Facilitating and encouraging ongoing regular discussions regarding related matters that may include, and are not limited to:

  • expected standards of performance and role responsibilities;
  • development, support, and training as appropriate to assist staff during the probationary period;
  • open and transparent communications (including documented meeting outcomes and agreements where and as appropriate).

d. Staff members will be confirmed unless Human Resources are advised by the Supervisor otherwise prior to completion of the Probation period.

5. Staff Members Responsibilities

5.1  The Staff Member is responsible for:

a. Executing their role responsibilities to the agreed standard of performance in line with the Probation Plan;

b. Actively participating in all probation discussions, including interim reviews; and

c. Communicating openly and transparently with their Supervisor regarding the Probation Plan, including:

  • seeking clarification of expectations and/or role responsibilities and expected standards of performance consistent with both the PD and JCU’s Position Classification Descriptors;
  • advising the Supervisor of any concerns regarding successful fulfilment of the Probation Plan, including, and not limited to training needs, achievement(s) relative to opportunity, and any required tools and/or resources.

6. Outcome of Probation – Recommendation for Confirmation of Employment

6.1 Staff Members who successfully demonstrate the standards of performance and role responsibilities documented in the Probation Plan will be recommended for Confirmation of Employment.

6.2 The Supervisor is responsible for completing the Final Probation Review template and forwarding the completed template to the relevant delegate for approval.

6.3 The Staff Member should be notified of the approval in writing by Human Resources and their employment will be confirmed;

6.4 Once employment is confirmed, JCU will continue to support the Staff Member’s performance their development through creating a Performance and Development Plan (PDP) and ongoing performance and development discussions.

7. Outcome of Probation – Recommendation for Termination of Employment

7.1 If, after following the steps outlined in Section 3.4, concerns around the Staff Member’s performance remain, the Supervisor may progress to a Final Probation Review recommending termination of employment.

7.2 The Staff Member should be provided with an opportunity to respond to a recommendation for termination of employment.

7.3 After considering a response from the Staff Member, the Supervisor may choose to provide a recommendation to the Work Unit and/or Divisional Head for termination.

7.4 If the recommendation to terminate is supported by the Work Unit and/or Divisional Head and the Director of Human Resources (or nominee) the Staff Member will be notified in writing of the decision.

7.5 If the recommendation for termination of employment is not supported, a letter confirming their employment will be provided to the Staff Member stipulating that they comply with a formal Performance Improvement Plan to be managed under the Managing underperformance clause within the Enterprise Agreement.

Related policy instruments

Performance Development and Recognition Policy

Recruitment, Selection and Appointment Policy

Other related documents and legislation

James Cook University Enterprise Agreement

Relative Opportunity and Performance Evidence Guidelines (ROPE)

Human Resources Employment Lifecycle Forms


NOTE:  Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainUniversity Management

Policy Sub-domain

Human Resources

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Services and Resources

Approval Authority

Vice Chancellor

Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date






Procedure established to provide direction for managing probation periods for Professional and Technical staff.

Organisational Development Specialist


commencement, probation, performance, development, Enterprise Agreement

Contact person

Manager, Culture and Capability