Probation in Lesotho

The probationary period in an employment contract allows employers to assess employees before a permanent employment position is offered. Probationary periods allow employers to continually monitor and assess the first few months of employment to determine suitability.

The Labour Code Order, 1992 provides that the maximum period for probation in Lesotho is four months. Should the employer not terminate the probationary period within the specified time period, the employment will automatically be deemed to be a permanent position for an indefinite period.

Employment contracts may be terminated during the probationary period. In the case of employment termination, either party may give a week’s notice. This is in terms of section 75 of the Labour Code, 1992.

An employee may initially be employed for a probationary period not exceeding four months. The period of probation should be of a reasonable length, usually three and sometimes up to four months, having regard to factors such as the nature of the job, the standards required, etc.

The probationary period may be extended beyond a period of four months only with the leave in writing of the Labour Commissioner. An employer who wishes to extend the period of probation of an employee must apply in writing to the Labour Commissioner, stating the reasons for the extension. The application must be submitted to the Labour Commissioner at least two to four weeks prior to the lapse of the statutory probationary period.

At any time during the continuance of the probationary period or immediately at its end, the employee may be dismissed with one week’s notice. It is vital that the employee is dismissed immediately at the end of the probationary period as even a single day soon thereafter will be presumed to be a recurring permanent employment in Lesotho. The employment is automatically regarded as permanent employment for an indefinite period. The Labour Code (Codes of Good Practice) Notice 2003 outlines the fairness of dismissing an employee on probation.

Employers and employees are to take heed of the provision in the Labour Code Order in order safeguard themselves from any unnecessary disputes.