What is the average length for a probationary period? I have been offered a role with a company that has an eight month probationary period. Are they being unfair?
The length of a probationary (or trial) period depends on the type and the seniority of the role and the size of the business. You don't say what type of role you have been offered, so it is difficult to say whether the length of the probation is excessive or not. Most probationary periods are now of six months duration. This is directly linked to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The act says businesses that have in excess of fifteen employees have up to six months to assess the suitability of a new employee. If the employee's employment is terminated within that period of time, they cannot bring an unfair dismissal case against that employer.
Of course, your employer can have an eight month probationary period written in your contract or indeed extend your probationary period beyond eight months, but there would be no point. In the very unlikely event that your employment were to be discontinued, the company would act within the six month statutory period to avoid any legal consequences. I should also add that if you are working with a company with fewer than fifteen employees, then the business has up to twelve months to assess your suitability.
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