Human Resources

University Policy on Probation and Confirmation (Academic Staff)

Policy No.
UP07/254
Function
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Human Resources - Central Unit
Date Approved
12/07/2011 Revised 06/02/2015
Next Review Date
01/03/2016
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Probation and Confirmation (Academic Staff)

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy defines the nature and purpose of probation for academic staff and sets out eligibility, timeframes and responsibilities of the academic staff member, the supervisor and Dean and outlines the role of the Academic Promotions Committee throughout the probation process.

Policy statement:

Purpose of Probation

Responsibility of the Employee

General Conditions

Responsibility of the Supervisor

2.1

Induction

Responsibility of the Dean

2.2

Commencing PDA

Role of the Senior Deputy Vice

2.3

Performance Development and

Chancellor

Appraisal

Role of the Academic Promotions

2.4

Academic Portfolios

Committee

2.5

Probation Periods

Criteria for Confirmation

2.6

Periods of Extended Leave

When Performance Standards are

2.7

The Impact of Probation on

not being met

Promotion

10.

Review of Recommendation to Annul

This policy is to be read in conjunction with Academic staff probation.

1 Purpose of Probation

The purpose of the probation period is to establish whether there is an appropriate match between the person, the job, and the work environment. The desired outcome of a probation period is that employment will be confirmed under the terms of the employment contract. The probation period also provides the employee, in conjunction with his or her supervisor, the opportunity to address any issues relating to performance that may act as a barrier to the successful completion of the probationary period. At all stages of the probation period the employee must have the opportunity to remedy any work conduct deficiencies and should be provided with development, coaching and counselling by their supervisor.

1.1 Staff employed on either fixed term or ongoing (tenurable) appointments are subject to probationary periods - refer to Terms of academic probationary periods.

1.1.1 Employees in ongoing (tenurable) positions must submit an academic portfolio annually until the end of the probationary period. For all academic levels (other than Level A) the probationary period is typically three years. Level A probationary period is five years.

1.1.2 The probationary period for academics employed in fixed term positions is three to six months, and the submission of the academic portfolio is not required.

1.2 Probation does not apply to casual appointments.

1.3 The academic probationary period will include documented evidence that there has been management of the staff member's performance.

1.4 Performance assessment during the probationary period will include consideration of achievement relative to opportunity and will require appropriate evaluation of achievements in relation to:

  • The quantum or rate of productivity;
  • The opportunity to participate in certain types of activities; and
  • The consistency of activities or output over the period of consideration.

1.5 Before the end of the probation period, a decision must be made as to whether the employment should be confirmed as specified in the employment contract, extended or (in the event that the employee cannot meet the probation criteria) annulled.

2 General conditions governing probation

Throughout the probationary period the staff member is to be provided with regular feedback on their performance. The regularity of such feedback will largely depend on the needs of the individual staff member.

Successful induction and participation in the Commencement Performance Development Appraisal (CPDA) is important to the successful development of a career in the University.

2.1 Commencing the probation period - Induction

Within one month of commencement, the supervisor will provide an induction to the work area. Guidance for supervisors can be found on the University's Induction Website. The supervisor will:

  • Ensure that the employee receives induction to the work area, including a Health and Safety Induction for the work area;
  • Provide the employee with a copy of or access to Minimum Standards for Academic Levels (MSALS), the expectations of an academic in the school or work area, and any other documentation relevant to the position; and
  • Ensure the employee is aware of the requirement to comply with the University Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, as specified in the contract of employment.

During the CPDA new staff members should be provided with probation criteria and details of performance expectations during the probation period.

2.2 Commencing Performance Development Appraisal (CPDA)

Within two months of commencement a CPDA is to be completed. Induction and participation in the CPDA is important to the successful development of a career in the University. During the CPDA new staff members should be provided with probation criteria and details of performance expectations and timeframes during the probation period. Guidelines are provided within the CPDA Procedures. The supervisor will:

  • Explain the probation process, the Academic Portfolio requirements and set dates for probation review;
  • Ensure that the employee is aware of the performance expectations of the role, and how those expectations align with the faculty and University strategic objectives;
  • Discuss the process for dealing with concerns during the probationary period and for providing on-going feedback; and
  • Confirm the discussions in writing and provide a copy to the employee.

2.3 Performance Development and Appraisal (PDA)

The PDA is to be conducted annually during the probationary period and beyond.

The expectations of both the employee and the University must be reflected in the PDA and will normally be:

  • Expressed as goals or outcomes to be achieved;
  • Related to the expectations of all University staff;
  • Consistent with the faculty's workload model;
  • Related to the level and time frame of the appointment of the staff member, and the opportunities provided in these arrangements for the employee to meet performance expectations;
  • Clearly specify expectations for the School or work area, and the University during the probationary period and the longer term; and
  • Designed to ensure that the staff member can work productively in the University.

2.4 Academic Portfolios

2.4.1 The staff member will submit an Academic Portfolio annually through the Head of School to the Dean. Failure to comply with this employment condition may result in extension of probation or the annulment of the appointment.

2.4.1.1 The due dates for submitting the Academic Portfolio will be on the anniversary of commencement for all but the final report; and

2.4.1.2 Submission of the final report is to be no less than four months before the end of the probation period.

  • Level A - 56 months after commencement (4 years 8 months)
  • Levels B-E - 32 months after commencement (2 years and 8 months)

2.4.2 Failure to comply with submission dates of Academic Portfolios may result in extension of probation or the annulment of an appointment - refer to Procedures for late submission of academic portfolios.

2.5 Probation Periods

2.5.1 Academic Staff Appointed to Ongoing (Tenurable) Positions

Probation periods are determined by the term of appointment and the academic level of the employee. Refer to Terms of academic probationary periods.

2.5.2 Fixed-term Staff On Second Or Subsequent Contracts

2.5.2.1 Any second or subsequent fixed-term contract may contain a probationary period where the second or subsequent fixed-term contract is for a position where the duties are substantially difference.

2.5.2.2 When an academic staff member who has held fixed-term appointments secures an ongoing (tenurable) appointment, the relevant probation period for ongoing (tenurable) appointments will normally apply. On recommendation of the Dean the probation period may be shortened having regard for any probation period served when employed on a fixed term basis.

2.6 Periods of Extended Leave

If a probationary academic takes periods of extended leave of greater than three months (such as parental leave or leave without pay), the probationary period may be extended by an equivalent period. The period of extension will be determined by the progress of the academic towards satisfying the probation requirements, the length of absence, and the level.

2.6.1 Other than in the case of late submission of the academic portfolio, the probation of Level A academics will only be extended in exceptional circumstances.

2.7 The Impact of Academic Promotion on Probation

2.7.1 When an employee who occupies an ongoing (tenurable) appointment subject to probation is successful in attaining a promotion prior to the expiry of the probation period, the appointment will be converted to ongoing (tenured) from the date of promotion.

2.7.2 When an employee who occupies a fixed term contract is successful in attaining a promotion before the expiry of the probation period or before the end of the appointment, the new appointment is not normally converted to ongoing but the Dean may make such a recommendation. Regard will need to be given to the reason for an employee being on a fixed term contract (E.g. external funding) which could result in a position not being eligible for ongoing status. This does not affect the academic staff member's eligibility to apply for promotion.

3 Responsibility of the Employee

All probationary employees are required to undertake a Commencing PDA within two months of commencing, followed by an annual Performance Development and Appraisal (PDA) as part of the University's performance management process. The review of an employee's progress during the probation period is managed through this process. Employees have a responsibility to take all reasonable actions to ensure that performance objectives are met and whenever difficulties are encountered they should seek early guidance and support from their supervisors. There are requirements for formal annual meetings, but the performance management process should be ongoing with regular feedback to the employee.

3.1 The employee's responsibilities are to:

  • Seek clarification from their supervisor about any aspect of the role, performance objectives or expectations that are unclear;
  • Prepare for and participate constructively in probation review meetings (eg CPDA and PDA meetings);
  • Complete Section 1 of the Supervisor's Annual Report and submit with an Academic Portfolio annually, or on request, through the Head of School to the Dean. Required elements of the portfolio include a cover sheet, Curriculum Vitae, Folios F1 (teaching and learning), F2 (research) and F3 (service), and the Summary Statement. (Folio 1 is optional for research staff.); and
  • Countersign the Head of School's report regarding the Academic Portfolio to verify that he/she has seen its content. Where the staff member disagrees with the Head's report they may make a written response which shall be attached to the Head's report.

3.2 Employees should refer to:

4 Responsibility of the Supervisor

4.1 The supervisor is commonly the Head of School, but the role may be delegated by the Dean to another senior academic. An employee may request the nomination of an alternative supervisor and such requests may be approved by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor. The role of the supervisor is critical in the induction of a new staff member. Guidance for supervisors can be found at the University's Induction website.

4.2 Within the first month of commencement the supervisor is expected to conduct an induction to the Work Area.

4.3 Within two months of commencement a CPDA is to be conducted.

4.4 Throughout the probationary period, the supervisor must provide the employee with adequate opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the performance expectations of their role. The supervisor must also provide regular feedback on progress against objectives, provide coaching and counselling where necessary. If any problems become apparent, these should be discussed when the incident arises and documented (refer Part 9 of this Policy).

The probationary period is a time of ongoing assessment. If issues arise at any stage during the period they must be addressed as soon as possible. Performance management is not something which only occurs on the occasion of the annual review. When assessing performance, consideration needs to be given to the opportunities of the employee to accrue merit, and assessment should focus on quality and achievement.

4.5 The supervisor considers the Academic Portfolio and is required to prepare and submit a Supervisor's Annual Report to the Dean.

4.6 Prior to the finalisation of each annual Supervisor's Report, the Head of School must meet with each probationary employee to enable the employee to respond to the Report and to collaborate on the development of an action plan.

4.7 If it appears that the criteria are not being met at any stage and annulment of appointment is considered, the Head of School must seek advice from Employee Relations & Management Services, Human Resources before following the procedure specified in Clause 9 of this policy.

4.8 The Head of School will make a recommendation to the Dean as to whether ongoing employment status be confirmed, probation extended or appointment annulled (noting that only the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor can annul the appointment).

5 Responsibility of the Dean

5.1 The Dean's role in the academic probation process is to review the Academic Portfolio and Supervisor's Annual Report.

5.1.1 Annual Reports (other than final reports)

The Dean has the authority to accept all satisfactory annual reports (other than the final report) and forward the Academic Portfolio and Report to Human Resources. In cases of outstanding performance where there is a recommendation to shorten the probationary period, the Dean will forward the documentation and recommendation to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Adverse annual reports are to be forwarded to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor with the Dean's recommendation, which may include a recommendation to extend the probationary period or, in exceptional circumstances, annul the appointment during the probationary period.

5.1.2 Final Reports

The Dean will forward the documentation and final Report to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, recommending-

  • appointment on satisfactory completion of the probationary period; or
  • extension of the probationary period, or
  • annulment of the appointment.

6 Role of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

6.1 During the probationary period the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will receive any adverse Supervisor's Annual Reports, together with supporting documentation and the Dean's recommendation.

6.2 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor has the responsibility to approve, extend or annul the appointment of a probationary academic employee. The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will receive the recommendation of the Dean. All cases where there is a report finding academic performance standards (i.e. teaching and research) are not being met will be referred to the Academic Promotions Committee for an assessment of the case. Where an adverse report relates to behaviour or conduct issues, the case may be determined by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

6.3 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will inform Senate of the outcomes of tenure applications for all academic staff Levels A - E.

7 Role of the Academic Promotions Committee

7.1 The Academic Promotions Committee will provide advice to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor on the academic merit of cases where performance standards are not being met during the probationary period.

7.2 The full Academic Promotions Committee is established to review cases where progress during probation has been unsatisfactory, or where for various reasons, it is proposed that probation be extended. The full Committee comprises:

  • The Core Committee
  • Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor's Nominee (Chair)
  • 3 Academic Board nominees
  • 2 Vice-Chancellor's nominees
  • 1 Elected Staff Representative

with the addition of :

  • the appropriate Head of School;
  • a member from a cognate discipline (if none exists in the core committee);
  • an elected staff representative (observer); and
  • the Director, Human Resources or nominee (observer).

8 Criteria

8.1 The criteria for confirmation of appointment are the same as those for selection for academic positions and are set out in the Minimum Standards for Academic Levels which can be found at Selection Criteria for Academic Positions.

9 Probation Procedures where Performance Standards are not being met

9.1 Human Resources (Employee Relations and Management Services - ERMS) should be consulted as early as possible in cases where performance issues are identified during a probationary period.

9.2 The procedures specified in the University's Academic Staff Agreement for dealing with unsatisfactory performance do not apply to probationary employees.

9.3 Where, at any stage of the probationary period, the Supervisor identifies a performance concern, the Head should undertake an appraisal of the employee's performance. If the assessment concludes that the employee's performance or conduct requires improvement, and/or there is a concern for their suitability for the role, the Supervisor will forward the assessment to the Dean, accompanied with recommendations to address the performance issues.

9.4 If the concerns relate to collegiality issues; that is, issues with conduct or fit with the school, the Dean must consult Human Resources. He or she will then make recommendations to address the concerns (in which case 9.6 to 9.8 below do not apply).

9.5 If the concerns relate to the teaching or research criteria; that is, the work performance of the academic, the Dean will refer to the Academic Promotions Committee with his or her recommendations.

9.6 The Academic Promotions Committee will assess the academic merits of the case and will review the recommended course of action to raise performance to a satisfactory level.

9.7 If the performance issue relates to the penultimate or final probation report, the Academic Promotions Committee will determine a timeframe necessary for the probationary employee to be given adequate opportunity to address the performance concerns. This may involve setting a revised date for the final probation report, on which the decision regarding the annulment of the appointment will be made. Such a date will be no later than three months prior to the end of the probationary period, to allow for notice of annulment to be given no later than two months prior to the end of the probationary period.

9.8 The supervisor will then advise the employee and the Committee, in writing, as follows:

  • that the performance standards, conduct and suitability have not been met, outlining the deficiencies;
  • that the employee's performance, conduct and suitability will be monitored during a specified review period;
  • of the expectations for improving in accordance with the performance standards. This may include specific completion dates where appropriate for particular tasks or rectification of behaviour; and
  • that if the performance standards are not met the employee's probation may be extended or appointment annulled.

9.9 The employee must have an opportunity to remedy the work conduct deficiencies and should be provided with development, coaching and counselling by the supervisor or the relevant persons, where appropriate.

9.10 At the end of the review period the Supervisor or relevant delegated authority shall recommend that either:

9.10.1 the employee's employment continue, subject to continued satisfactory performance during the probationary period;

9.10.2 the probationary period be extended for a further period in which to monitor the employee's performance in accordance with 9.8; or

9.10.3 the employee's appointment be annulled.

9.11 If the Supervisor is recommending that annulment should occur, the Supervisor will advise the employee of this recommendation in writing. The Supervisor should ensure advice had been sought from Human Resources prior to taking this step. The employee will have the opportunity to respond to the Supervisor within 10 working days.

9.12 After the response has been received, the Supervisor will forward the recommendation with all relevant documentation Dean of the Faculty.

9.13 The employee should be made aware of the Dean's recommendation and have the opportunity to respond to the Dean's recommendation within five days. The Dean may refer back to the Head for further action or information and/or endorse the recommendation and refer to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

9.14 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will seek advice on the recommendation to annul the appointment to the Academic Promotions Committee.

10 Review of Recommendation to Annul Appointment

10.1 In reviewing a recommendation to extend or annul an appointment the following factors will be considered:

10.1.1 Whether the appointee was reasonably aware of the job/conduct requirements;

10.1.2 Whether the appointee had received adequate supervision and coaching for the expected standard of performance;

10.1.3 Progress made against performance objectives or standards required;

10.1.4 Whether there is an appropriate match between person, job and workplace; and

10.1.5 Whether the procedures outlined in this policy have been applied.

10.2 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will review all documentation and will seek guidance from the Academic Promotions Committee for an assessment of the academic merits. The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor may then determine that:

10.2.1 the appointment be annulled; or

10.2.2 the probationary period be extended; or

10.2.3 the appointment continue, subject to continued satisfactory performance during the probationary period; or

10.2.4 the recommendation to annul the appointment is not substantiated.

10.3 Where there is a case of misconduct, dereliction of duty or irretrievable breakdown of working relationship an appointment may be annulled before the end of the probationary period. Schedule D of the Academic Staff Agreement outlines the process to be followed in circumstances of misconduct or dereliction of duty. The Director, Human Resources or the Deputy Director, Human Resources should be contacted if this is proposed.

11 Advice

Members of the ERMS team in Human Resources are available to provide advice in relation to this policy.

Related forms:

Application for Academic Promotion: Comments by Head of School and Dean

TRIM File No:

F49126

Contact position:

Employee Relations and Management Services

Related Policies or legislation:

Academic Staff Agreement 2014

Achievement Relative to Opportunity Policy

Performance Development and Appraisal Policy

Guidelines for the Preparation of the Academic Portfolio

Timeframes for Submission of the Academic Portfolio

Procedures for late submission of academic portfolios