Everything you need to know about inducting a new ECEC employee
Jobs Tips and Resources
Having a comprehensive induction process for those who are new to an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service can make a huge difference in how well the employee settles in, understands what is required of them, and makes a positive contribution to the team.
In this piece, The Sector explores three key stages of employee induction, an important element of service provision, as outlined in Element 7.1.2 of the National Quality Standard which marks induction as “a key process in creating and maintaining a positive and professional culture,” highlighting the important role that induction plays.
With much of the sector struggling to attract and retain sufficient staff, reviewing all aspects of the recruitment process, including induction, can shape the present and future of an individual service, but of the sector as a whole.
Before an employee commences work
Before an employee begins work at an ECEC service, the following evidence should be sighted and recorded:
- Relevant criminal history screen for state/territory
- Relevant child protection training for state/territory
- Evidence of holding the relevant qualification level for the position
- Evidence of anything further required under individual site policy (for example, some providers require that all educators are fully vaccinated).
A new employee pack which sets the employee up with pay for their position should also be given, and should include:
- Australian Tax Office employment declaration form
- Payroll form(s) and details of banking information for electronic payments
- Superannuation membership application form
- A copy of the Fair Work Information Statement, available from www.fairwork.gov.au
Additional information, which falls into the HR space and supports the employee should include:
- Information about core policies and procedures the employee has to know about on the first day eg, appropriate attire, expectations when working with children
- Contract of employment
- Job and person specification
- Copy of your staff handbook
- Forms required for personnel files eg, details of next of kin, any relevant health care needs.
If the employee has not yet attended the service, an orientation visit, which includes staff spaces, key personnel and an opportunity to see the spaces and people with whom they will be working is considered best practice.
Once all the relevant documentation has been received, parents, families and other educators should be notified about the new employee, their start date, and a little about their background.
The first day
On the first day, the new employee should be supported by a more experienced staff member, and ideally should have an opportunity to meet with them before commencing work caring for children.
The experienced staff member should discuss aspects of the job and the service, give an overview of the workplace, and then share more specific information about the indoor and outdoor areas, children, program, daily routines, supervision and communication.
Policies and procedures relating to children, staff, families, health, safety and emergency practices should be outlined, along with a broad overview of governance for the service.
The experienced staff member should discuss their expectations of the employee in the coming days, weeks and months, and outline the tasks they are expected to complete, to ensure a shared understanding.
The service Code of Conduct should be discussed at this time, ensuring that the new employee also has a solid understanding of core policies such as:
- Children’s records
- Communication with families.
Following this conversation, the employee should be shown key areas of the service such as toilets, staff lockers, the location of the program for their room/s, first aid kits, sign in sheets, and anything else deemed relevant.
At this point in time, it is wise to ask the employee to complete and sign an induction checklist, indicating that they have read, received and understood the information outlined above.
Make time to check in and review
An experienced staff member should meet with the new employee within their first weeks of employment.
While there is no set probationary period included in the modern awards, under the National Employment Standards, employees must complete a minimum period of service before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal.
As such, it is wise to meet with an employee during this time frame, or the probationary period outlined in their employment contract.
For a large service, with over 15 full-time equivalent employees, employees employed for less than six months cannot pursue an unfair dismissal claim.
Where there are fewer than 15 full-time equivalent employees, employees must complete a minimum of 12 months service before they can make a claim.
Meeting within the first few months of employment can help both parties to assess the new person’s competence in the workplace and support any needs they may have. These meetings are also an opportunity to acknowledge positive progress made by the new employee, and gives each party a chance to identify gaps and issues.
In the event that an employee is not meeting the requirements for their role, or there are performance issues, the employee should be offered support and assistance to meet that requirement, with agreed timelines. When giving the employee feedback about particular work practices, this should be clear and specific to the job description and the individual service’s policies including the Code of Conduct.
For those employees who are not meeting expectations, and who have not shown improvement in the first months, the option of ending employment may be taken, in line with the fair processes outlined on the Fair Work website.
The recommended intervals for new employee reviews are:
- at the end of the first week
- two weeks after appointment
- six weeks after appointment
- three months after appointment
- six months after appointment.