Home Law The lack of care towards “probationary employees” in Bangladesh

The lack of care towards “probationary employees” in Bangladesh

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A probationary worker, also known as a probationary employee, is an individual newly hired by an employer, undergoing a trial period at the beginning of his or her employment. During this probationary period, the employer assesses the employee’s performance, behaviour, and suitability for the job. As per Section 4(8) of the Labour Act 2006, clerical workers are subject to a probation period of six months, while other employees undergo a three-month probation period. It also mentions that if the quality of work for a skilled worker cannot be determined within the initial three months, his or her probation may be extended for another three months. A permanent worker, also known as a permanent employee, is an individual who has been hired by an employer with the expectation of continuing employment for an indefinite duration, subject to the terms and conditions of his or her employment contract or the employer’s policies. Unlike probationary employees, permanent employees typically have greater job security. They are entitled to various benefits such as paid leaves, retirement benefits, etc offered by their employers according to the Labour Act.

Despite the precise definitions of the Labour Act regarding probationary periods, termination remains a critical issue, particularly for probationary employees. It can be seen that probationary employees encounter complex challenges and uncertainties surrounding termination procedures. One of the primary challenges faced by probationary employees in Bangladesh organizations is the absence of clear guidelines regarding termination notices from employers. While it is a common practice in the corporate sector to provide a termination notice to probationary employees about a week before their probationary period ends, the Act lacks explicit directives on the appropriate timing of such notices. Such absence of clarity leaves probationary workers vulnerable, as they may receive little to no advance notice before termination, which may also be only a few days prior to the end of their probationary period. Without a clear timeframe for notice, probationary employees are left in a state of uncertainty, unable to prepare psychologically for potential termination or explore alternative employment opportunities adequately. 

In contrast, the termination process for permanent employees is clearly outlined in Section 26 of the Labour Act 2006. This section mentions that employers must adhere to this provision when terminating the employment of permanent employees. According to Section 26, employers must provide permanent employees with a written notice of termination, with a substantial duration of 120 days. This notice period allows permanent employees the opportunity to prepare for their termination and seek alternative opportunities – something unseen in the case of probationary workers. 

Another hurdle faced by probationary employees in Bangladesh is the denial of permanent worker status after their probationary period ends, despite the clear provisions outlined in Section 4(8) of the Labour Act 2006. According to this section, upon the completion of the probationary period, a worker is automatically deemed to be permanent, regardless of whether they receive a formal confirmation letter from their employer or not. This section clearly states that the mere completion of the probationary period is sufficient for the transition to permanent worker status. However, in practice, many employers overlook or outright deny this statutory provision, depriving probationary employees of their rightful status and the accompanying benefits and protections given to them as permanent workers by the Labour Act. In most cases, the employees are unaware of this matter due to the lack of legal knowledge. In the case of Bangladesh Film Development Corporation vs Chairman, 1st Labour Court, Dhaka and others (1995), The High Court ruled that after the expiration of the statutory six-month probationary period, an employee automatically becomes permanent. Therefore, the respondent, having completed her probation, attained permanent status. The argument that her position was probationary was rejected due to the continuity of her employment without interruption even after the end of her probationary period. Furthermore, no adverse reports were given to the respondent during the probationary period of six months. The absence of such reports implies her transition to permanent status. Consequently, her termination was deemed unlawful. This judgment of the High Court Division is consistent with the provision about the transition to permanent worker status mentioned in Section 4(8) of the Labour Act 2006.

In conclusion, the presence of ambiguity and loopholes within labour laws and the lack of awareness among workers creates a ground for employers to exploit and deny probationary employees their legal rights as outlined in the Labour Act 2006.

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