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Probationary Period

Author: Jeff Durham - Updated: 12 March 2015 | commentsComment
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.


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?

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[Add a Comment]
@Nix. There are no fixed limits but 3 months notice does seem a little excessive in a probationary period.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-15 @ 11:35 AM
@Vroper - if your 3 month probationary period ended over 3 months ago, you can assume you past it unless you were officially informed that it was extended.
SafeWorkers - 13-Mar-15 @ 12:52 PM
Hi, I've just received my contract through for a new role I'm about to start. It states in there that the notice period is 3 months 'each way' except for my 6 month probation period, where my employer may give me one month's notice but I still have to give them 3 months notice. Does this sound right? Is this legal for them to require a longer notice period from me than they're prepared to give back?
Nix - 12-Mar-15 @ 3:33 PM
Hi I have recently moved from a successful role in retail management to a new business as part of my progression. Unfortunately the role has not turned out what it was sold to me as and all the reason's I've been employed for has not been put in place. I've been with the business 6 months and with a 3 month probationary period in which I was told I would get a monthly review and the third being the final to finalise a permanent contract, extended probation or dismissal. I had 1 review and nothing since. I have now been told in the last week that there will be redundancies due to take place. I have had a group consultation with 3 other manager's and now due to have a single consultation. Do I have any rights as the company has not followed procedures in my probationary period?
Vroper - 11-Mar-15 @ 8:55 AM
@Kat. It actually sounds as though they've realised that their probationary procedure has been a bit 'lax' and are taking steps to improve it. By extending your probationary period they can then be sure that they get it right. Note that your employment rights start from the day you began working and not from when your probationary period ends, so it should not have any adverse effect on you long term. If you feel this is not the case and there is a subtext to their actions, then consult your union.
SafeWorkers - 26-Feb-15 @ 11:17 AM
I have been teaching 19 years, always a good and outstanding teacher and in SLT.In September I moved to a new school to be closer to home, becoming just a teacher in a New Academy.On appointment I was given a contract where it mentioned a probationary period of 6 months with a review at 3 months, it also stated that the job could be terminated with 1 months notice during this period.My 6 months is due to be up at the end of February.On 12th Feb I was approached to say that the Academy had not carried out the reviews as they should have (true) and the probationary period would be extended by 3 months.This was by word of mouth.I was also handed a document stating the ins and outs of the probationary period that I had not been given before, stating 10 days notice should be given for termination (conflicting info) and that i should have been offered an induction and mentor to see me through this period (this has not happened). A colleague in the same position has been asked to have a review meeting this week.We feel that this is the Academy's error not our error and that it is not fair for the period to be extended so close to the 6 months and only as a pass by 'quick meet' rather than meeting, or even in writing.I feel that there is a hidden agenda and wonder where myself and my colleague stand legally with this situation.Can we have our probation extended in this way?Should we be entitled to be made permanent at 6 months?Need urgent response and help as a review meeting is being called this week, and I need to know where I stand and whether this can happen.Thanks
Kat - 23-Feb-15 @ 9:22 PM
@disciple. As long as you give adequate notice (this will be in your contract) you can resign. Please note that any job seekers allowance etc may be affected by this, so discuss it with them first if that applies to you.
SafeWorkers - 17-Feb-15 @ 11:42 AM
I have been with my company for 2 and a half years and just recently became general manager on a 6month probation period however I have not signed any form of contractand my probation finished on the 31st of jan and they have only just booked in a probation review at the end of the month ( February) technically I have past but I have heard they are going to extend my probation is this legal even though My probation would have been completed for over a month ?
Sam90 - 16-Feb-15 @ 11:42 PM
@Peby. Why not ask your employer today? Do not assume anything on this occasion as the meeting may simply have been delayed.
SafeWorkers - 16-Feb-15 @ 12:53 PM
Hi im in a job as a school cleaner and on probation and i hate the job and i want to leave as the person in charge constantly criticise my work and i feel he will pull me up on very minor things like you missed finger marks onthe windows ect and checks ive done all the jobs every day which isnt possible always as not enough time to do it do i have to give notice or can i just leave as i feel that im never going to be able to meet his high standards i really want to go before i get cross and argue with him .
disciple - 15-Feb-15 @ 10:27 PM
Hi my probation ended on Friday my boss was meant t see me but didn't does that mean i have got a full time position as come Monday I'm no longer on my 3 on the trail?
peby - 14-Feb-15 @ 8:20 AM
Hi already posted but the drama continues. Based in scotland as appears to be diff laws. 1 - son left school to take up full time position 2 - altho he provided his dob and age on numerous occasions prior to getting offer on his 2 week they told him as he was under 18 he couldnt do the 10 hrs per day and they were giving him weekends with weekdays where poss to make up to 4 days 3 -contract was for 39 hrs but he was getting 32 hrs 4 - they have now told him he is getting weekends only 5 - he is on 3 month prob period. so my questions are 1 - can they legally do that with his offer of employ after it had been accepted and cut his hours 2 - they have said that someone phoned in on his behalf and said that he was unhappy with the lack of hours (no one has called in) 3 -do they have to pay him the full contracted 39 hours even if they arent offering him them. This is very annoying as he was only allowed to leave school to take up FULL TIME employ and i would never have permitted it for the hours he has been getting thanks tony
tony171075 - 29-Jan-15 @ 11:54 AM
@brito carvalho. Unfortunately there's not much you can do about this. You made your decisions on which company to go and work for. There is no employment legislation that covers the problem you've experienced.
SafeWorkers - 26-Jan-15 @ 1:55 PM
@aking. If you were not told during your 6 month probation period that it was being extended and that you have failed, then you are deemed to have passed. We have a question and answer article on this topic here.. You will have the rights as stated in your employment contract with regards to notice periods, pay, holidays etc. Bear in mind that you cannot usually claim for unfair dismissal until you have worked for a company for two years.
SafeWorkers - 23-Jan-15 @ 12:38 PM
I got a permanent job with a company and before I signed the contract I was offered another job by a different company and as it was better pay and permanent 35 hours a week contract I agreed but after 2 months 5 days they told my services was not required for reasons I don't understand, I feel cheated as I am without a job for 4 weeks now, can you tell me what can I do.
BRITO CARVALHO - 23-Jan-15 @ 2:34 AM
Hi, I have been searching the web for a while, but i am struggling to find any useful information on this matter. I started to work for a company on the 4th April 2014, So I have been employed by them for 9months. In the employees contract it say's I am on a 6month probationary period. But they have never mentioned this within the 9months and it has only come alight now as, they have now told me if things don't pick up in the next 2 months, you will be having to find yourself a new job. So my question is, what argument/rights do I have... As it is passed the probationary period without any communication, do i automatically assume that I have a permanent contract/or will I still be classed as within the probabtionary period? Many Thanks
aking - 21-Jan-15 @ 1:35 PM
@safeworkers sorry i should have said i am in scotland so they never brought that in up here yet. His initial employ offer was 39 hrs pw over 3 days with optional overtime up to 79 hours if he wanted. he then got taken in to office on his 4rth day at work ( induction + 3 working days) to be told that they didnt realise he was 17 altho they had his birth certificate and dob on his application and in interview notes. if they say we can only offer you weekend work can he force the issue and demand payment for the 39 hrs as per offer of employment Cheers Tony
tony1775 - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:41 PM
@tony1775. Assuming this occurred recently your son must have been born after 1 September 1997. From the summer of 2013, in England, a young person must stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday even if that means only part time. Is your son receiving training (leading to a qualification) during this employment? (17 year olds can’t normally work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week). Attendance is sometimes included in the assessment criteria for a probationary period, but work performance and other objectives will be the main contributors. Your son should have received some written objectives or performance measures so he know what is expected of him during his probationary period.
SafeWorkers - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:43 AM
Hi My son was in 6th year at school and was told in no uncertain terms that if he wanted to leave he had to have a FULLTIME job. He managed to get this with pay higher than the min wage for an adult. During the interview process he was asked for his d.o.b and age unpteen times. on wed after 3 days in the job he got called into the managers office and was told that they had messed up and didnt realise he was 17 so the hours per day he was doing were not allowed and they were creating a new shift pattern for him with ull days at the weekend and they would try to make up the hours during the week. He is working with food prep and yesterday he had to call in with sickness and the runs then spoke to his manager in the afternoon. He told him he MUST go to work today only to be sent home as was still showing signs of sickness. He is on a 3 month prob period. My questions are where do we stand with the hours thing as he left school to start this job and we have letters confirming 39 hrs with his rate of pay and should the sick days affect his prob period.
tony1775 - 11-Jan-15 @ 9:37 AM
Hi I started my job on 8th may 14- on six months probation when should be the right date for this to finish ie is it 8th November?? I have gone off sick and only got ssp when contract says 6 months but less than 2 years four weeks full pay ?( 1 went off on 26nov14) is this right or should I get the four weeks pay bit confused ?
Dandan - 21-Dec-14 @ 10:57 PM
hi there, I wonder if you could give me some advice please. I commenced anew job in Aug 2014 (after leaving my previous employer of 17years). I joined my new company on the promise of sustained work & an initial 6 month training period. I have recently been gave my notice (on 21st Nov 2014),with the director claiming this is down to the economic downturn. I have since heard the correct version of the story, it is simply that they now (for some unknown reason) want rid of me but didnt want to tell me to my face ??. I have fitted in well as part of a team & have been helping out in other roles when the role that i have been employed in has gotten quieter. My question is, is it possible to make someone redundant even though the 6month training period has not.been fulfilled ?
Gerry Madden - 11-Dec-14 @ 10:30 AM
Hi, I started with a company 5 months ago. The probation period was 3 months (and I was supposed to have a one month and two month review to keep me on track) I had none of these and only just had the three month review 2 months late which brought sales averages down so I didn't pass and have been extended a month to improve or I will lose my position. Someone said if they hadnt mentioned anything after the initial 3 months then you just pass the probationary period and then they cant dismiss you with the reason being from probation, is this true?
lisa - 9-Dec-14 @ 10:47 PM
@bbbrown. If you feel you have been discriminated against for any of the reasons mentioned in the above article, you can take this to a tribunal. However, if you simply wish to make a point about the unprofessionalism of the company, or a specific manager, then do so in a letter to the HR department or senion management. Keep to the facts and keep it calm.
SafeWorkers - 4-Dec-14 @ 11:37 AM
@jamesNI- they are allowed to give you just one week's notice.
SafeWorkers - 4-Dec-14 @ 11:35 AM
@Luc. It depends on the wording in your contract and how much notice is specified. It's usual to have a week's notice only, during a probationary period but that is not always the case, so check the contract.
SafeWorkers - 3-Dec-14 @ 10:01 AM
I need advice. My probationary period has not been successful. I feel like ive been dealt with unfairly in actual fact ive not experienced an attack this personal. There r many variables I can mention. The one point sited has been my communication skills. Where this has not been a problem in my 15 career. I do not wish for this to be a long laborious process I would just like the injustice of the situation to be highlighted
bbbrown - 2-Dec-14 @ 3:38 PM
My contract states under a notice section that I have to give 1 months notice. But under a probationary section it says that "they" can give me 1 weeks notice during the probationary period which last 6 months. During that first 6 months can I also give just 1 weeks notice or are they allowed to request 1 month from me while they only need to give 1 week?
JamesNI - 2-Dec-14 @ 2:42 PM
@pep. It's unlikely that you would get much compensation for this. Write to the employer and ask that they explain the reason for the probation period overrunning and if they can provide you with a reference. Usually, if a probationary period has expired, you can assume you have passed successfully, so they have at the very least, misled you and not followed correct procedures.
SafeWorkers - 1-Dec-14 @ 2:41 PM
Hi, I live in Wales and have just recently stared a part time job on a 6 month probation, as it's quite far for me to travel there and back! and I find it to be very welsh as I'm English speaking! I was just wondering would I have to work a month notice or can I just leave?
Luc - 30-Nov-14 @ 10:34 AM
Hi, I have was in a permanent contract with a probation period of 6 months. The 6 review was done after 7 months of emploiment. After two meetings the company decided to let me go (the real reason are my health issues, but they claimed that I had been late sometimes) I can´t do anything about it because althought it is obvious that it is an excuse, they can do it. My question is: how bad is it that they had me 1 extra month in probation than the contract says? I do not want to go back to work for them, all I want is to be given good references and also maybe a bit of compensation if possible. Many thanks
pep - 28-Nov-14 @ 7:44 PM
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