In The Workplace

Randy (not his real name) is a probationary employee who is not doing well. The problem is that his line supervisor reported the matter late into the probation period. Under the law, a worker’s employment status should have been “regular” immediately after probation ends. However, our chief executive officer (CEO) wants us to defer Randy’s regularization by giving him a chance to prove his worth for one additional month. That makes a total of seven months. What do you think? — Popcorn.

Our basic reference on probationary employment is Art. 296 (formerly Art. 281) of the Labor Code. It says that probationary employment must not exceed six months, subject to certain exceptions, like an apprenticeship program that requires a longer period to train.

If a probationary worker like Randy is allowed to work after six months, then he’s considered to have achieved regular status, even in the absence of a formal appointment or documentation in his favor. Or even in the presence of a formal document saying that Randy is still on probation.

The value of extending the probationary employment to seven months may not hold water if the intention is to use it as a pretext for allowing enough time for Randy to prove his competence preparatory to terminating his employment. Technically, he’s already a regular employee and must be treated as such.

Sure, to manifest the benevolence and liberality of management, Randy’s probationary period may be extended to one additional month. This is on the condition that Randy has agreed to such an extension in writing. But what if Randy would not agree to it?

It’s also important to understand that both probationary and regular employees enjoy security of tenure, unless they’ve proven themselves unworthy because of poor work performance, or if case they violate office policy and procedures.

Another issue with delaying Randy’s appointment is that he enjoys the pay, perks and privileges of a regular worker, even if the company promises to pay the adjustment retroactively. My recommendation is for you to immediately issue a formal, regular appointment in Randy’s favor so he can enjoy the company’s benefits as a regular employee.

Any further delay may only complicate matters or demotivate Randy. In addition, his line supervisor and manager with the help of human resources (HR) must set job requirements, standards and goals for that particular position. All these must align with the parameters set for other workers who are similarly situated.

During the issuance of formal regular appointment papers, which should be done in a closed-door conference, the same opportunity must be used by the line management team (supervisor and department manager) to have a heart-to-heart talk with Randy. Review his total performance, both positive and negative, with the help of HR.

This may have the effect of intimidating Randy. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon your team to create a positive atmosphere before, during and after that meeting. After all, the formal issuance of regular appointment papers in favor of any worker is always a welcome development and should not be marred by any negative feelings or ill-will.

In this conference, you may emphasize Randy’s weaknesses without destroying his ego. Be diplomatic just the same. Offer to help him improve his performance by exploring his challenges within the organization. Without line management knowing it, it would be difficult for them to understand the root causes behind Randy’s poor performance.

It could be that training is one of the options. But if this not available through a company-wide program or if your company doesn’t want to spend training money on Randy, your alternative is to perform personal mentoring, or free online courses that he can attend after office hours.

Another option is for a friendly, senior worker to assist him as an alternate mentor. This mentor could be the go-to person when questions arise or to help correct some errors, particularly if the line supervisor is not around. That’s assuming that Randy is still interested in the job he was doing during his probationary employment. He may want to work in other departments or some place or branch near his residence.

Now that we’re done with the cure, our next step is to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future. Both HR and all line supervisors and managers must have a tickler file or a memory jogger to remind them when to appraise the performance of their probationary workers.

It could take the form of a desk calendar with enough space for your to-do list for any given working day. Of course, it’s much better if you can have a reminder system on your laptop, desktop or other electronic device. HR remains primarily responsible in ensuring that the line leader regularly monitors Randy’s performance and that of other probationary employees.

Enough blaming. By and large, this is another case of a bad system that has created havoc in the lives of Randy, his supervisors, managers and HR.


Bring Rey Elbo’s popular leadership program called “Superior Subordinate Supervision” to your supervisors and managers. Or chat with him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or e-mail or visit