Home > Employment Law > Probationary Period

Probationary Period

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 26 Oct 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]
My son was a Christmas temp at the Range retail shop. Yesterday he was fired on the spot, the reasons given were based on a couple of reports from another employee. Although my son no longer wishes to work there, I was wondering if he can ask for a copy of the reasons given for his firing. From what he told me they are extremely minor complaints and a case of the other employees word against his. I have no wish to even attempt any sort of unfair dismissal claim, but if the reasons given are as minor as he has told me I would like to make a formal complaint. Also it has knocked my son's confidence, as he had no idea that he had done anything wrong. At least if we got a copy of the complaints made against him, we could find out what if anything he did wrong and work on it from there.
Fred Bloggs - 26-Oct-18 @ 11:01 PM
Having been working on my probation period my boss asked me to work overtime . I am already working 40hours that week. I said no because I can't get child care plus I'm working 40hours. He has said to me that it will be a black mark against me when my probation period ends. Can he do this?
Sally - 11-Sep-18 @ 12:42 PM
I started a job this week. I'm on a three month probation period. I haven't signed a formal contract but a sheet accepting the position offered. There is no mention of notice period. It's not the job for me and I want to let them know sooner rather than later. What are my rights? If I tell them on my next working day, can I just leave the same day?? Any advice would be really helpful. Regards
Nik - 24-Aug-18 @ 8:19 PM
Nik - Your Question:
My son has been offer a part time job for the summer in a local store, they have told him that they will withhold his first 20 hours until after his 3 month probation and if he leaves he won't get that pay.but as he will only be there for under 3 months.is this even legal (employment period aside).

Our Response:
No, in general , your son should be paid for ANY work that he does.Unfortunately until the employer has actually withheld the pay, there isn't much your son can do. He cannot bring a claim on the basis that the employer has merely threatened to deduct wages.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jul-18 @ 2:50 PM
My son has been offer a part time job for the summer in a local store, they have told him that they will withhold his first 20 hours until after his 3 month probation and if he leaves he won't get that pay..but as he will only be there for under 3 months....is this even legal (employment period aside).
Nik - 2-Jul-18 @ 4:07 PM
Mamita - Your Question:
I have signed an agreement that I cannot leave the job during probationary period. But I left the job. Because the company is not paying my salary and there is no work environment and the company is doing mental harrassment Now the company is asking me to join office otherwise they will take legal action. What is the solution

Our Response:
Talk to ACAS. If you are not being paid for work that you have done, it is a matter for an employment tribunal.
SafeWorkers - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:36 PM
I have signed an agreement that i cannot leave the job during probationary period. But i left the job. Because the company is not paying my salary and there is no work environment and the company is doing mental harrassment Now the company is asking me to join office otherwise they will take legal action. What is the solution
Mamita - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:22 AM
A work colleague was first appointed as a temp as receptionist. after 2 months she was offered full time employment, with a 6 month probationary period. Her contract of employment doesn't expressly state that her probationary period can be extended. Now she had been informed in writing that her probationary period is extended for 2 months. Can the employer extend her probationary period, even though they have offered her full time employment after looking at her work for 2/3 months before offering her an employment!!
Ali - 20-Jun-18 @ 12:03 PM
Karina - Your Question:
Hi, My 6 months probation ends next week with a review appointment but I am not happy with the job. In my contract it says I have to give 1 months' notice after probation but there is no term about the notice required before probation ends. Does this mean I can give two weeks' notice?

Our Response:
No, the notice period in your contract will apply if there is no other notice period mentioned.
SafeWorkers - 9-May-18 @ 3:47 PM
Hi, My 6 months probation ends next week with a review appointment but I am not happy with the job. In my contract it says I have to give 1 months' notice after probation but there is no term about the notice required before probation ends. Does this mean I can give two weeks' notice?
Karina - 9-May-18 @ 3:33 PM
Lu - Your Question:
Hi, I really need an advice what to do. I found out I'm pregnant and I'm still on my probation period. I will have to tell them company about my pregnancy before the end of my probation. I'm afraid they might release me because of that under some other excuse (even though they would not have to pay me maternity pay, because I'm too short with them to qualify). Also, looks like they are downsizing a lot and maybe would use the opportunity to get rid of me even if I wouldn't be pregnant. I will be in a very difficult financial situation anyway - is there anything I can do to make them pass me through probation and keep me until I go on maternity leave? It would make me financial difference of 3-4months of salary. Please help

Our Response:
You must tell your employer you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week in which your baby's due so it may be that you can complete your probationary period before telling them. Note that you cannot be dismissed because of pregnancy and if you are it may constitute discrimination. Please see our Guide which tells you your rights during pregnancy.
SafeWorkers - 4-May-18 @ 3:26 PM
Hi, I really need an advice what to do. I found out I'm pregnant and I'm still on my probation period. I will have to tell them company about my pregnancy before the end of my probation. I'm afraid they might release me because of that under some other excuse (even though they would not have to pay me maternity pay, because I'm too short with them to qualify). Also, looks like they are downsizing a lot and maybe would use the opportunity to get rid of me even if I wouldn't be pregnant. I will be in a very difficult financial situation anyway - is there anything I can do to make them pass me through probation and keep me until I go on maternity leave? It would make me financial difference of 3-4months of salary... Please help
Lu - 3-May-18 @ 3:05 PM
I started a new job and signed a contract that said permanent. Last week my employer came to me and said I was having a review about my job has to weather I was keeping my job or not. I was never told when I started that I was on a 6months trial/probation period i was told the job was mine and my contract said permanent. Today (20.4.18) They came in and gave me a review and have sacked me and said I'm no good at the job. There has been no complaints made about me or my work and my boss has not had weekly fortnightly meetings with me to discuss any issues. Are they able to sack me and are they able to say after me being there for 6months that I'm on trial even though my contract says permanent
Jo - 20-Apr-18 @ 9:48 PM
Amal - Your Question:
I wanted to know if I could have two months off work. I am on my probationary period and I have to undertake a fulltime placement for uni what are my rights?

Our Response:
You need to ask your employer about this as it will depend on their policy.
SafeWorkers - 20-Apr-18 @ 3:29 PM
I wanted to know if I could have two months off work. I am on my probationary period and I have to undertake a fulltime placement for uni what are my rights?
Amal - 18-Apr-18 @ 6:17 PM
1 and half month into probation. But signed off due to some health conditions. But deciding not to go back due to health and can't work my notice will they still pay me?
Sara - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:49 PM
klou- Your Question:
Hi, my 16-y/o daughter applied for a position that was advertised as 2-3 days per week. She worked a three hour unpaid ‘interview’ slot (which was actually training) before being offered the job (no contract). She has since worked 38 hours for them in one week, being heavily questioned each time she wants to take a day off. She no longer wishes to work there (understandable) but has been told that she will have to pay a £40 uniform deposit (she has not been given a uniform) and £100 admin fee if she leaves before 6th July. I’m assuming this is some kind of probationary period but it seems they are breaching all kinds of rules?

Our Response:
This sounds highly unethical. If she wasn't told about the repayable fees it's unlikely she can be made to repay the employer. Phone ACAS or contact Citizens' Advice. They may be able to talk to the employer on your daughter's behalf.
SafeWorkers - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:39 PM
Hi, my 16-y/o daughter applied for a position that was advertised as 2-3 days per week. She worked a three hour unpaid ‘interview’ slot (which was actually training) before being offered the job (no contract). She has since worked 38 hours for them in one week, being heavily questioned each time she wants to take a day off. She no longer wishes to work there (understandable) but has been told that she will have to pay a £40 uniform deposit (she has not been given a uniform) and £100 admin fee if she leaves before 6th July. I’m assuming this is some kind of probationary period but it seems they are breaching all kinds of rules?
klou - 13-Apr-18 @ 5:45 PM
Dan74 - Your Question:
I’m currently 2 and a half months into a 6 month probation period. The training has involved travelling 230 miles to training centre with food and hotels provided. My contract states I am liable to pay some or all of the costs of training/travel/tools supplied/food etc. Does this apply during the probation period as I am considering an offer from another business? Also my contract states I will be informed of my current liability from time to time. As of yet I have had no information. Thank you.

Our Response:
It's quite common for employers to recoup training costs if an employee leaves before a specified period of time.
SafeWorkers - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:06 PM
I’m currently 2 and a half months into a 6 month probation period. The training has involved travelling 230 miles to training centre with food and hotels provided. My contract states I am liable to pay some or all of the costs of training/travel/tools supplied/food etc. Does this apply during the probation period as I am considering an offer from another business? Also my contract states I will be informed of my current liability from time to time. As of yet I have had no information. Thank you.
Dan74 - 10-Apr-18 @ 3:57 PM
my son started work and was on a probationary period.when he started he signed a contract to say that if he left during a specific period then he would be liable for paying back training costs.My son was off due to stress for 2 months during his probation time and they then extended the period for 2 months.He went back for his review and they said he was doing really well but to be sure would extend it for another month.during that time he made a few mistakes and when he had his review they said they would not pass him and that his employment would end forthwith.He has now received a letter asking him to pay back over £1000 for his training due to him leaving.He didnt leave it wasnt his choice they ended his employment.is he liable to repay these costs?
Mel - 28-Mar-18 @ 2:30 PM
Fran- Your Question:
I went to an induction for a job within a care Agency and I had to give a £20 deposit which I was told towards phone and uniform. I told the coordinator within an hour that I didn't think the job was for me. She persuaded me to stay for the induction. I called her this morning and said I didn't want to work for Company and asked for my £20 back and told I cannot have it as they have enrolled me on an inline training course. So I said ok can I do the online training course and benefit from it and told no we print certificates here at our end. It's the principle of the £20 that's bugging me. Is there anything I can do about this.

Our Response:
You should really be given a refund or the opportunity to do the training but check the terms of the contract to be sure.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-18 @ 2:31 PM
I went to an induction for a job within a care Agency and I had to give a £20 deposit which I was told towards phone and uniform. I told the coordinator within an hour that I didn't think the job was for me. She persuaded me to stay for the induction. I called her this morning and said I didn't want to work for Company and asked for my £20 back and told I cannot have it as they have enrolled me on an inline training course. So I said ok can I do the online training course and benefit from it and told no we print certificates here at our end. It's the principle of the £20 that's bugging me. Is there anything I can do about this.
Fran - 13-Mar-18 @ 10:54 AM
Oa - Your Question:
Hi, I'm currently 3 weeks into my 3 month probation period but have already decided this job is not for me, if I was to leave before my pay day will I still receive the pay for the hours I've worked? Thanks.

Our Response:
Yes as long as you submit the required notice, you should be paid for all hours worked. If you fail to work your notice, your employer can deduct this from your final payment.
SafeWorkers - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:28 PM
Hi, I'm currently 3 weeks into my 3 month probation period but have already decided this job is not for me, if I was to leave before my pay day will I still receive the pay for the hours I've worked? Thanks.
Oa - 9-Mar-18 @ 12:48 PM
Now I amin probation period of 3months. And my contract is 3years agreement. I don't want to continue this job. Can I able to leave this job.
Sai - 7-Mar-18 @ 7:05 PM
Jakub - Your Question:
Hi. My colleague passed probation period but recently they put him back on probation period. Is it legal to be put back on even after he passed it?

Our Response:
No, you can't simply be put back on a probationary period. If an employee is not working to the required standards, he/she should be dealt with via the usual disciplinary procedures as a full employee.
SafeWorkers - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:31 AM
Hi. My colleague passed probation period but recently they put him back on probation period. Is it legal to be put back on even after he passed it?
Jakub - 3-Mar-18 @ 3:30 PM
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
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