If you’ve just begun a new tech job, you’ve likely been put on a probation period. Starting a new role can be nerve-wracking in the first place, but knowing you’re in one can make things even more stressful. The good news is that with a little more insight into what it’s all for, you’ll see that there’s no need to be concerned.

Probation periods are set out by employers to determine whether or not there is a good fit between parties. For most people, it’s an extension of the application process and passing the probationary period means that you have been successful in securing the position long-term. During this time, your employment can be terminated at shorter notice than usual, but that works both ways for you and the employer.

If you’re wondering what it means to be on a probationary period, what your rights are, or if you have any other concerns, we’ve put together a list of questions that are most commonly asked when it comes to probation periods, along with the answers you’re looking for.


Common Questions About Probation Periods

How Long Will Probation Last?

Probation periods can last any time, though typically range from 3-6 months. The length of the period must always be stated in the contract that you signed when you were offered the role.

The length of time you’re on a probation period can also depend on your contract type. As a permanent employee, it’s usually as above – three to six months – but if you are on a temporary contract it can be as little as a week. Some employers also may choose to extend a probationary period; but not without you agreeing to it, first.

If there is a possibility that it may be extended it’ll be written in your employment agreement and before any extension is confirmed, you have to be consulted.


What are my Rights as a Probationary Employee?

If you’re on probation, you are entitled to the same rights and benefits as any other employee under New Zealand employment law. Probationary employees may file a personal grievance claim if they feel they are being treated unfairly.

As you will receive the same pay and leave entitlements as non-probationary employees, unfair dismissal laws still apply. Employers must treat probationary employees the same as any other employee, and cannot make threats to their continued employment based on their probationary status.


Is it the Same as a Trial Period?

Probationary periods and trial periods are similar, and employers use them for similar reasons, but there are slight differences in how they work.

Trial periods may only be used by an employer with 19 or fewer employees and for no longer than 90 days. Trial periods may only be applied to new employees, and not employees who are already employed by a company.

Unlike a probationary period, an employee on a trial period can’t bring a personal grievance claim for unfair dismissal if their employment is terminated. If you see ‘trial period’ instead of ‘probationary period,’ clarify it with your employer before you sign anything.


What are Some Reasons for a Dismissal During Probation?

Probationary employees are protected under unfair dismissal laws just like any other, and so your employer must provide valid reasons for choosing to terminate your employment. Employers must base their decision based on reasons such as:

  • Poor performance
  • Misconduct
  • Redundancy – the role is no longer necessary.


You are entitled to submit an unfair dismissal claim if you believe that:

  • Your performance assessment process was unfair
  • Your employer didn’t have a good reason for dismissing you
  • You did not receive the right support or training you needed to perform your role


What Happens at the End of my Probation Period?

Depending on how your probation period has gone, your employment may continue, or you may be dismissed.

  • If you pass your probation
    Your employment will continue as it was, as per your terms and conditions. The only difference is that your probation period is over. You might have an adjustment to how much notice you can give if you choose to resign from your position later, too.
  • If you don’t pass your probation
    If your employer intends to terminate your employment, they must give you a warning that they intend to do this. They must give you a chance to respond, and consider your response. If they still wish to proceed with termination, they must give you the amount of notice as stipulated in the employment agreement.



Finding a probationary period in your employment contract may feel daunting, so it’s important to remember that employees are still protected under unfair dismissal laws and that employers must give the right feedback and support throughout the period for the termination to be valid. It is also the case that the probation goes both ways, and you may also leave on shorter notice if you sense that the job isn’t right for you.

If you want to know more about the ins and of probation periods for tech jobs, what your rights are, or if you have any questions that aren’t covered here, make sure you reach out to our friendly team. As leaders in technology and digital recruitment in Auckland and Christchurch, we can offer expert advice on anything you need to feel at ease in your new tech job.

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