Home > Employment Law > Probationary Period

Probationary Period

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 18 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Probationary Period

Because many companies spend thousands of pounds a year on recruitment and training they need to ensure that they get the right person for the job and whilst assessment tests and interviews will give them a very good idea in terms of assessing the most suitable candidate, they can never really be entirely certain that the person they offer the job to will be the best choice they could have made until the successful applicant starts doing the actually job. After all, there are a couple of factors to consider.

It’s not simply just about how well you can do the job but also if you can Fit in with the Team, which is something that is quite difficult to establish just at interview. Therefore, many companies choose to ask you to work a probationary period before you’re fully made a permanent member of staff or you can be released if they decide they don’t wish to make you permanent.

The Probationary Period

Probationary periods normally last for about 3 to 6 months, sometimes longer, although if it’s a short-term, temporary contract, they can often be much shorter. They are designed to let employers assess how well you’re coping in the job, how you get on with the team and to establish whether or not they want to offer you the job permanently following the completion of the probationary period.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just about assessing whether or not you’re right for the job but also about whether the job’s right for you. The reason being that the company might need to invest heavily in training for you and, if you decide it’s isn’t what you want after all, either upon completion of your training or part the way through and you decide to leave, the company will have wasted their money on the training.

So, unlike a permanent position where you may have to give a month’s notice if you decide to leave or vice versa, the company wishes to give you notice, both parties should have the right to terminate the agreement whenever they choose. However, you’d need to check your contract to see if you’re required to give any notice or vice versa.

If you are going to be subject to working a probationary period, ask the employer to put down the terms of the agreement into an Employment Contract. That way, you’ll know what is expected of you and also the date upon which the agreement ends and you’re either taken on permanently or let go.

Reviews

You’ll probably receive regular reviews throughout your probationary period to give you an idea on how you’re progressing and for you to give feedback on how you’re enjoying the job. It’s also an opportunity for either side to pinpoint any weaknesses or issues, which may be resolved by offering you additional training. This is not meant to be a criticism of your work performance but simply enables the company to take stock and to implement any additional training needs, if need be.

Team leaders and, perhaps, even the HR department too will have a strong influence during your probationary period so it’s important that you realise that these are the people you need to impress if you want to be taken on permanently once it comes to an end. However, providing you understand and deliver upon what’s expected of you, you shouldn’t have any real problems.

Your Rights

In terms of Minimum Wage, holiday pay, health and safety issues and the working time regulations, you are entitled to the same protection during your probationary period as are the permanent members of staff. However, if your boss decides to let you go during this period, you cannot claim unfair dismissal unless it was for reasons to do with harassment or some form of discrimination offence unless your probationary period runs for longer than a year, which is quite unusual.

You shouldn’t panic too much about a probationary period. It does, naturally, mean that you haven’t got as much security in your job initially to enable you to plan finances too far ahead but it is rare that poor performance is cited as the reason you’re not going to be kept on. Usually, a company will offer you advice and, where appropriate, further training in order to get you up to speed as opposed to letting you go for those reasons.

It’s also useful to go into these situations with the right attitude. Tell yourself that providing you do what’s expected of you, there’s going to be a permanent job at the end of it. Yet be philosophical also and if things don’t work out and you are not kept on, remember you’ve earned money during the period and, more importantly perhaps, you’ll have gained more skills to put on a CV, made new contacts and, at the very least, if it goes all wrong, you may be able to say, “I’ve tried that job but it wasn’t for me.”

If you're convinced that you have been unfairly treated during your probation period, then why not investigate more about unfair dismissal?

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Loyal-D - Your Question:
Hi, I started a job 2 1/2 months ago and when I started I was told I would be in a senior position which was unexpected because my contract does not state this. I went along with it but it's causing me a lot of stress and upset so I know I can't stay there. My contract says "There will be a three month probationary period during which either party can terminate the contract with one week's notice" Does that mean I have to give notice and work the 1 week before the end of my probationary period, or I can hand my notice right at the end of my probation and work 1 week's notice into month 4?Thanks.

Our Response:
As long as you hand your notice in before the probationary period ends, the notice required during the probationary period will apply.
SafeWorkers - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:37 PM
Hi, I started a job 2 1/2 months ago and when I started I was told I would be in a senior position which was unexpected because my contract does not state this. I went along with it but it's causing me a lot of stress and upset so I know I can't stay there. My contract says "There will be a three month probationary period during which either party can terminate the contract with one week's notice" Does that mean I have to give notice and work the 1 week before the end of my probationary period, or I can hand my notice right at the end of my probation and work 1 week's notice into month 4? Thanks.
Loyal-D - 18-Feb-18 @ 5:05 PM
Greenbird - Your Question:
I’ve been working as a contractor for 2 years for a company. They recently made me permanent with a probationary period of 6 months. However I am currently pregnant and need to go off on maternity leave half way through my probation period. Can they put this period on hold till I return back from maternity.

Our Response:
Don't forget the probationary period has no real legal status - it would be unlikely and unreasonable to extend your probationary period to this extent especially as you've already worked as a contractor for 2 years.
SafeWorkers - 29-Jan-18 @ 1:50 PM
I’ve been working as a contractor for 2 years for a company. They recently made me permanent with a probationary period of 6 months. However I am currently pregnant and need to go off on maternity leave half way through my probation period. Can they put this period on hold till I return back from maternity.
Greenbird - 27-Jan-18 @ 10:36 AM
Hello. If contract says that probation period is 6 month. During the period of 6 month no one call for any meeting and than after working with the company more than 10 month they are sending a letter for the probational meeting, should I accept it? Can they still do it? As it's already 4 months as probation period finished.
HxR - 22-Jan-18 @ 3:17 PM
GV - Your Question:
I have just had my six month probation review and been told verbally it is being extended for a further six months due to me not currently meeting company standards. My contract and company handbook states I should have received regular review meetings to highlight any issues or training required.I have never had any feedback or meetings throughout the six months so had no idea that I was not meeting standards. I feel devastated and confused as I thought I had been doing well with no feedback to suggest otherwise. My faith in the company has now been totally destroyed and am now on tender hooks if I will lose my job at a moments notice. Any advice? Should I resign

Our Response:
Don't resign, let your employer know how devastated you feel and ask for a schedule of objectives and reviews etc. Take it as as positive that they have extended your probationary period rather than simply dismissing you. Even if you stay in the job for 12 months it will look better than 6 on a CV etc and you never know, you may find your feet and start to improve/enjoy the job. If your contract says you are entitled to regular reviews, make sure you get them.
SafeWorkers - 16-Jan-18 @ 10:46 AM
I have just had my six month probation review and been told verbally it is being extended for a further six months due to me not currently meeting company standards. My contract and company handbook states I should have received regular review meetings to highlight any issues or training required. I have never had any feedback or meetings throughout the six months so had no idea that I was not meeting standards. I feel devastated and confused as I thought I had been doing well with no feedback to suggest otherwise. My faith in the company has now been totally destroyed and amnow on tender hooks if I will lose my job at a moments notice. Any advice? Should I resign
GV - 13-Jan-18 @ 11:02 AM
MissSmiley - Your Question:
Hello,I’ve worked with a company for 8 months now, however, I’ve not had a 6month review or any comfirmation that I have completed my probation or even if it has been extended. I’m now wanting to give in a generous notice period of a month but my manager is arguing that I have to give longer as I’ve worked there 8 months. Should a probation period be comfirmed to the employee once completed?

Our Response:
Once a probationary period has ended, you can assume you have passed it successfully if you do not hear from your employer. You are therefore a full employee and the notice period in your contract will apply.
SafeWorkers - 10-Jan-18 @ 3:47 PM
Hello, I’ve worked with a company for 8 months now, however, I’ve not had a 6month review or any comfirmation that I have completed my probation or even if it has been extended. I’m now wanting to give in a generous notice period of a month but my manager is arguing that I have to give longer as I’ve worked there 8 months. Should a probation period be comfirmed to the employee once completed?
MissSmiley - 10-Jan-18 @ 7:18 AM
Scottish- Your Question:
HiIm on a 6 month probation period. I'm almost 5 months into it. I would really like to reduce my hours from 39 to 24. due to personal circumstances and childcare issues. Am I entitled to ask for this change whilst still in my probation period? I really want to reduce my hours asap. Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
All employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks are eligible to apply for flexible working (which includes changing the times of work or reducing hours etc). We assume you haven't yet worked for 26 weeks so may have to work a little longer. When you do make the request, bear in mind that your employer does not have to agree to the request but must give it reasonable consideration and offer a valid business reason for refusing.
SafeWorkers - 9-Jan-18 @ 12:24 PM
Hi Im on a 6 month probation period. I'm almost 5 months into it.. I would really like to reduce my hours from 39 to 24.. due to personal circumstances and childcare issues. Am I entitled to ask for this change whilst still in my probation period? I really want to reduce my hours asap. Thanks in advance.
Scottish - 8-Jan-18 @ 12:03 PM
Walshy - Your Question:
Hi I have just recently been dissmissed from on job in the middle of my 6 month probabtion period, I worked a month in advance, will I still be entitled to that if I'm on probabtion period?

Our Response:
Yes you should be paid for any time that you've worked for your employer.
SafeWorkers - 19-Dec-17 @ 10:17 AM
Hi I have just recently been dissmissed from on job in the middle of my 6 month probabtion period, I worked a month in advance, will I still be entitled to that if I'm on probabtion period?
Walshy - 16-Dec-17 @ 11:25 AM
CindiB - Your Question:
I started my current job and was working to a probation of 3 months. The three months passed on 22/11/17. On Monday 4th/12 I was called in for a review, my first, and told they were going to extend my probation for 1 month. The company will be closed for 10 days over Christmas which does not leave me much time to meet the goals set. Where do I stand?

Our Response:
Your employer should really have held your reviewafter 3 months. You may have a case to say that you had assumed you had passed your probationary period successfully as they had not mentioned it at the three month stage.
SafeWorkers - 8-Dec-17 @ 3:50 PM
I started my current job and was working to a probation of 3 months.The three months passed on 22/11/17. On Monday 4th/12 I was called in for a review, my first, and told they were going to extend my probation for 1 month.The company will be closed for 10 days over Christmas which does not leave me much time to meet the goals set.Where do I stand?
CindiB - 6-Dec-17 @ 4:01 PM
Jo - Your Question:
I don't have any probationary clause in my contract and have been working less than 6 months. Do I need to comply with a probationary period?

Our Response:
No if you haven't been advised of a probationary period, you don't have one.
SafeWorkers - 6-Dec-17 @ 9:56 AM
I don't have any probationary clause in my contract and have been working less than 6 months. Do I need to comply with a probationary period?
Jo - 5-Dec-17 @ 5:52 AM
Lisa_B - Your Question:
Hi, im currently on 6 months probation. Once the 6 months is up would I have to sign a new contract to become permanent?

Our Response:
No you are already an employee and should already have a contract from your employer. You don't have to sign a new contract at the end of your probationary period (in fact it would be wrong of your employer to ask you to).
SafeWorkers - 27-Nov-17 @ 10:32 AM
Hi, im currently on 6 months probation. Once the 6 months is up would I have to sign a new contract to become permanent?
Lisa_B - 23-Nov-17 @ 1:41 AM
Im currently on probabtion period, im on my 3rd day off due to my daughter's nursery been suspended by ofsted. Work have not been supportive and habe said i shouldn't of applied for the job if family commitment got in the way. Ive been looking up and the government website's say you are entitled to emergency time off with dependants. Could they sack me or would it be unfsir dismissal
Shell - 20-Nov-17 @ 10:16 PM
Nazzer - Your Question:
Hi I was working with a company for 16 months (8 months on agency). I was on a 12 month probation period and I was doing great in the job constantly getting emails off my employer to say I'm doing a great job but never brought in for a review so on the 15th of October (storm Irma) I brought up a health and safety issue as I work outdoors I needed ppe and my employer did not provide it. So 2 days later oct 17th I get a phone call 10 mins before my shift ended to say I needed to go back to the office so when I went back to the office I was dismissed immediately for absaloutely no reason he basically said I wasn't a fit for the company and that the company wasn't a fit for me. Note I have that in written and I also have all the compliments iv been getting sent to me saying I was doing a great job is.

Our Response:
There really isn't much you can do about this as long as your employer has followed the correct procedure and the employer has not been in breach of a specific health and safety law.
SafeWorkers - 14-Nov-17 @ 2:48 PM
Hi I was working with a company for 16 months (8 months on agency) . I was on a 12 month probation period and I was doing great in the job constantly getting emails off my employer to say I'm doing a great job but never brought in for a review so on the 15th of October (storm Irma) I brought up a health and safety issue as I work outdoors I needed ppe and my employer did not provide it. So 2 days later oct 17th I get a phone call 10 mins before my shift ended to say I needed to go back to the office so when I went back to the office I was dismissed immediatelyfor absaloutely no reason he basically said I wasn't a fit for the company and that the company wasn't a fit for me. Note I have that in written and I also have all the compliments iv been getting sent to me saying I was doing a great job is .
Nazzer - 13-Nov-17 @ 5:01 AM
Pms - Your Question:
My 3 month probation was due to end on the 14th sept but on the 26th Aug I handed in a sick note, I received a letter via post saying I am now on a years probation. I've only signed a contract for the 6 months probation. I wish to leave but if I do will I have to pay back all the courses I have done? Help

Our Response:
If it's part of your contract that you repay any training costs if you leave within a certain period (and this is quite a common condition for employers to impose), then unfortunately there's not much you can do about this.
SafeWorkers - 6-Nov-17 @ 3:19 PM
My 3 month probation was due to end on the 14th sept but on the 26th Aug I handed in a sick note, I received a letter via post saying I am now on a years probation. I've only signed a contract for the 6 months probation. I wish to leave but if I do will I have to pay back all the courses I have done? Help
Pms - 5-Nov-17 @ 9:36 PM
I have worked at my place for 10 years and just swapped shifts and now I'm on a probationary period can I get dismissed without redundancy pay?
Carter - 5-Oct-17 @ 4:57 PM
Am still on probation after 6 months how much notice would I have to give?
Fitz66 - 30-Aug-17 @ 8:40 PM
My 6 month probation period is due to end 30/09/2017 & my employer requires that I work 2 months notice. I handed in my notice last week, with my new employer asking for me to start on 02/10/17. My currently employer wants me to work the full 2 months. Am I able to leave at the end of my probationary period? I am unhappy in the current role & would like to leave at the end of my probation, by rights they would either pass or extend my probation. Could I exercise any right & leave at the end of my probationary period? Thanks in advance.
jg9235 - 29-Aug-17 @ 3:26 PM
I have worked as a temp for 3 years doing the same job ,during this period for the first 6 months I was on probation and a lower rate of pay which went up after 12 and 24 weeks, now I have been offered a permenant role doing the same job and they want to drop my wages to complete the same probationary period again . Is this normal and legal ?
Guffmonkey - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:50 PM
AH1991 - Your Question:
I have just completed a probationary period at a job, however was not kept on. I am due my final wage from the company this month, despite being on a probationary period I am still entitled to me wage, is this correct?

Our Response:
Yes you are entitled to be paid for any work you've completed.
SafeWorkers - 30-Jun-17 @ 10:35 AM
Cracker - Your Question:
Hi I'm currently on an apprenticeship that's not for me and already past my probationary period, what is the law regarding me quiting by the way I live in the uk

Our Response:
All apprenticeships have different terms. Some ask that you pay costs back if you don't complete etc. Check the terms and conditions your were given at the commencement of the apprenticeship.
SafeWorkers - 29-Jun-17 @ 10:07 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeWorkers website. Please read our Disclaimer.