Probation in Zambia

By Musonda Kambikambi and Sibeso M Kumwenda

You have finally aced those interviews and been offered your dream job. What comes next???

Then begins the relationship between an employer and the employee. The probation period can be seen as a work test period for the employer and employee’s benefit. This is when both you and your employer decide if you are the right fit for the job and organisation.

Previously, the existence and duration of this period were left to the employer’s discretion. The Employment Code Act No.3 of 2019 now provides guidelines for this period.

What the Code says about Probation

  1. The employee can be employed for a probationary period not exceeding 3 months to determine the suitability of the engagement. This period can be extended for a further period not exceeding 3 months.
  2. Before the end of the probationary period, an employee should be assessed, and the result should be communicated to the employee before the end of the probationary period in writing. Where the employer does not notify the employee, the employee shall be confirmed in the position from the date of the expiry of the probation period.
  3. In an instance where either the employer or employee wishes to terminate the employment relationship, at least 24 hours notice should be given. Although, the employer should abide by the guidelines set up for terminating an employee.
  4. An employee who was not terminated for performance-related reasons when re-employed by the same employer for the same role shall not be subject to probation within a period of two years.

Pointers on probation

✅For probation to apply, it is best if it is explicitly provided for in the employment contract.
✅For an employee to be dismissed for failing to perform satisfactorily during probation, it is ideal that the employment contract includes a probation provision.
✅Assessment of performance has to be taken, and the result needs to be communicated to the employee.
✅Should an employer or employee wish to terminate a contract during the probation period, 24hrs notice must be given, and the employer should abide by the guidelines for terminating an employee.
✅Lack of communication after the probation period to an employee means the employee will be deemed to have been confirmed from the end of the probation period.

For more articles on Zambian Employment Law, click here.

About Sibeso M Kumwenda

With over 5 years of HR and operations experience, Sibeso Kumwenda is a goal-oriented and results-focused talent acquisition specialist with solutions that help companies realize the full potential of their staff. She holds a Human resource Diploma and Degree from the University of Zambia and is currently pursuing a Masters of Law degree in Employment and Labour law from University of Lusaka. Recently promoted to the position of HR outsourcing manager, her areas of expertise include employment and labour law consultancy, recruitment, employment contract, formulation and drafting, hr policies, employee compensation and payroll administration. Check out her LinkedIn page here.

Please note that the above is intended for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

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