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Probationary Period

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 4 Apr 2016 | 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?

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[Add a Comment]
Jello - Your Question:
I worked for a company for 2 weeks after which I was called in for what I thought was an update meeting but turned out to be a dismissal. I was told I was not the right fit for the job. They did not think I would fit with the team. I did say I had asperger's so if there were any misunderstandings then I apologise. I was then told it was too late. Is this allowed? I had no warnings, no comment on performance just this 1 meeting.

Our Response:
If you're formally diagnosed with aspergers, this is classed as a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. If you feel you employer has dismissed you because of your aspergers (rather than something else), then it would be worth contacting ACAS for advice.
SafeWorkers - 6-Apr-16 @ 2:40 PM
I worked for a company for 2 weeks after which I was called in for what I thought was an update meeting but turned out to be a dismissal. I was told I was not the right fit for the job. They did not think I would fit with the team. I did say I had asperger's so if there were any misunderstandings then I apologise. I was then told it was too late. Is this allowed? I had no warnings, no comment on performance just this 1 meeting.
Jello - 4-Apr-16 @ 1:42 PM
If I am in a probationary period and want to leave the company, is there a legal amount of time I have to give? My contract says 12 weeks (which I still haven't signed and returned 8 weeks into my job) I'm under the understanding that the 12 weeks only applies when out of the probationary period? Any help appreciated
GetMeOut - 31-Mar-16 @ 7:39 AM
CT - Your Question:
If an employee is on probation and the first two references came back ok, when started job, but then hear there could have been a prev problem/alligation, so request a further reference and all they will provide is dates and the fact there was an investigation, with no details, but wouldn't have employed her on the reference, do we still have to continue with her probation? Or are we able to end her employment? Thanks

Our Response:
That's entirely for you to decide as an employer. If the job was offered subject to satisfactory references then it's your chose as to whether you consider them to be "satisfactory" for your purposes.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-16 @ 2:17 PM
If an employee is on probation and the first two references came back ok, when started job, but then hear there could have been a prev problem/alligation, so request a further reference and all they will provide is dates and the fact there was an investigation, with no details, but wouldn't have employed her on the reference, do we still have to continue with her probation? Or are we able to end her employment? Thanks
CT - 15-Mar-16 @ 9:14 PM
Hi I have been in a job for just over two months I haven't had the training that was promised at the interview I feel I can't fully do the job the standards that's expected and is getting very stressful .I would like to look for other employment but I am concerned about how this would lookon my cv only working with the employer for less than three months my previous work history had been continuous I was in my last job for over three years.I would appreciate some advise please?
Becky - 2-Mar-16 @ 8:31 PM
GG - Your Question:
I completed a little less than a year of employment including a 6 month probation period with a company. I left for another employment opportunity that did not pan out. I want to go back to the company but want to know if they will require me to complete another 3-6 month probation period. Please advise. Thank you!

Our Response:
That is entirely up to the employer in question as there are no rules about this.
SafeWorkers - 22-Feb-16 @ 2:04 PM
I would like to leave me role during my probation period. I have been there for only 3 weeks. I signed my contract only a week ago. In my contract it says I must give 3 months notice. 3 months seems excessive amount of time. What are my rights? This is in the UK
Jimmy - 20-Feb-16 @ 11:42 AM
I completed a little less than a year of employment including a 6 month probation period with a company. I left for another employment opportunity that did not pan out. I want to go back to the company but want to know if they will require me to complete another 3-6 month probation period. Please advise. Thank you!
GG - 19-Feb-16 @ 5:08 PM
My 19 year old son left his job to start a career as a trainee car sales manager, he was given a start letter and a handbook, misjudged the journey, didn't realise he couldn't park on site, and was late to work the first three mornings, which he didn't think was a problem as he never took a lunch break and no one mentioned it was a problem, on the third day the director was in and said if he was late tomorrow he'd sack him, he got up 2 hrs early to make sure he was on time, he got there in plenty of time.But the director instructed his manager sack him anyway.He was called in the office and sacked his manager said theycouldn't rely on him getting to work on time as he lived to far away. He said he could get in on time and had proved that today and was prepared to leave 2 hrs earlier every day to keep his job.The sacked him and sent him home there and then.He was on 3 months probation. Is there anything he can do, and what is he entitled to?
Law - 11-Feb-16 @ 5:05 PM
Deskdriver - Your Question:
I have a contract that the "Probationary period is 6 months and you will only have passed your probation once advised in writing regardless if the 6 month period has passed"I've been in this position 7 months now and despite repeated requests I've heard nothing, however I've heard a rumor they're trying to employ a cheaper alternative to me and thats possibly the cause of the delay. My question is Will I qualify for the 1 month notice in the contract or will I have to accept the 1 week in probation notice period?

Our Response:
This clause sounds as though it would have no legal credibility if challenged. You might want to question the validity of it with your employer or give ACAS a call on 0300 123 1100
SafeWorkers - 20-Jan-16 @ 2:46 PM
I havea contract that the "Probationary period is 6 months and you will only have passed your probation once advised in writing regardless if the 6 month period has passed" I've been in this position 7 months now and despite repeated requests I've heard nothing, however I've heard a rumorthey're trying to employ a cheaper alternative to me and thats possibly the cause of the delay. My question is Will I qualify for the 1 month notice in the contract or will I have to accept the 1 week in probation notice period?
Deskdriver - 20-Jan-16 @ 1:39 PM
Hi, I was on my last day of my probation and my manager called me on the phone and told me they were extending my probation by 3 month. She also stated I was to recieve 2 weekly review meetings to make sure I meet standards, i have not had any meetings and the extension is due to end in 7 days. Can they fire me if they havent kept to their agreement?My last written evidence was 2 months into my initial probation saying how pleased she was with my work?I havenot recieved any letter statring reasons for extension. I want to be prepared for the dismissal if it happens.
Gem - 14-Jan-16 @ 6:40 AM
I started a new job 2 weeks ago & after the first week I had to go sick due to hurting my back. The job isn't for me & im on a trial period for 3 months. Do I need to give notice as I want to leave asap ?
Jules70 - 14-Jan-16 @ 3:01 AM
Hello, I started my new job in the UK 2 months ago. I am on 6 months probation. I have not signed any contract and my boss says that it is not necessary because I signed the offer letter. Now in the offer letter is reported I have to give them 3 months notice period, but I received a new and better offer from a bigger company that is valid only if I can move within 1 month. Is it possible to reduce the notice period during probation? What can it happen if I should leave before the end of the 3 months? Thanks in advance for your reply. Regards
GioggioGB - 13-Jan-16 @ 10:16 AM
Wayaway - Your Question:
Is there any legal concerns regarding leaving a junior member of staff on probation as the only member of staff leading a shift. I work as a residential care worker. Is this allowed?

Our Response:
A probationary worker has the same status as a standard employee from a health and safety point of view. A good employer would not usually leave a new employee in charge of a shift but it is not illegal.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jan-16 @ 9:46 AM
Is there any legal concerns regarding leaving a junior member of staff on probation as the only member of staff leading a shift. I work as a residential care worker . Is this allowed?
Wayaway - 2-Jan-16 @ 12:21 AM
Dani - Your Question:
Hello.I started a job at the start of August and they told me that my probation would be for 6 months, I left the job after a month for varies reasons. 3 months later and they still haven't paid me for the all the work I did. Do they owe me that money by law? Really need to know.Thank You.

Our Response:
Yes, you should have been paid for any work you completed. If you did not serve the correct notice period, the employer can deduct monies for that period only. Write a formal letter requesting the payment and suggesting that you will take it further via a solicitor if necessary.
SafeWorkers - 22-Dec-15 @ 11:30 AM
I started job on 2nd nov and on 7th Dec I fell down stairs at work they called ambulance and on 14th I was signed off by Dr for another 2wks due to bad sprain on ankle. I'm unable to drive or walk properly and im on crutches...I received phone call on 21st Dec from agency who got me job to say that they wouldn't be having me back and that ankle was taking too long to heal! And they didn't think I could do job! Firstly they knew I wasn't putting it on as I'd taken drs note in myself and secondly not once did they say I'm not doin something or even give proper training!! Where do I stand with my rights
Ellie - 22-Dec-15 @ 11:13 AM
Hello. I started a job at the start of August and they told me that my probation would be for 6 months, I left the job after a month for varies reasons. 3 months later and they still haven't paid me for the all the work I did. Do they owe me that money by law? Really need to know. Thank You.
Dani - 21-Dec-15 @ 4:26 AM
JK - Your Question:
My partner began work on 23 Febraury 2015, with a 6 month probationary period. This would then expire on 22 August. SEE ORIGINAL FOR THE FULL POST

Our Response:
Yes there has to be a provision to extend a probationary detailed in the contract but this should really have been acted on at time of the initial review. The most recent review date is debateable as she was given the date some time ago, so assume it's been pre-scheduled and it's roughly within the 3 months. The pregancy issue is something that seems dubious especially if they have withdrawn work that should have been allocated to your partner, so discrimination might be worth looking into. Also keep in mind that a probationary period has no real legal status and her employment rights began when she started working for this employer.
SafeWorkers - 27-Nov-15 @ 12:22 PM
My partner began work on 23 Febraury 2015, with a 6 month probationary period. This would then expire on 22 August. On 24 August she had an end of probationary period review where the probationary period was extended by 3 months, due to her falling short of sales targets (although there was an upwards trend). A couple of points here: a) My understanding is that the probationary period is passed by default if not reviewed before it expires, and b) there is no mention of provision to extend the probationary period in this time in her contract. Is this a lawful extension of the probationary period? This brings us to now, when the 3 month probationary review is due to tomorrow, 26 November. Again, even if the clock was to start ticking from the review in August, the probationary period would have expired on 23 November, so is now again passed by default? As a side plot, she has since fallen pregnantand informed work as soon as this was confirmed by the GP. This was approximately two weeks ago. Since this was discussed with her employer, the immediate response was 'we better bring your probationary period forward ', and a pipeline of work recently planned for her into the new year has been withdrawn (her workmates were told of this responsibility moving to my partner during our holiday in mid November, this was then confirmed directly to my partner after we returned from holiday two weeks ago, two days after we confirmed pregnancy this future work seemed to be removed from the table). I am naturally concerned that her employer is considering letting her go within their interpretation of the probationary period and I'm considering the options should this happen. I think there are a couple of things to go at - probationary period reviews after the probationary period has finished X 2, and in the worst case scenario, unlawful dismissal on the grounds of discrimination, given the change in behaviour after pregnancy was declared.She would then have no statutory rights for maternity leave in any new job at a new company, so this is a massive concern. Should we inform her employer that she has already passed her probationary period by default prior to her review tomorrow, and maybe influence her employer's views on what they can or can't do? Or wait to see what happens, and be prepared to fight if necessary? Any advice greatly appreciated. jK
JK - 25-Nov-15 @ 9:26 AM
My son was on probation period with work and had two disciplinary warnings and minimum wage. It is a car dealership and they let him sign for a £16000 car in the knowledge he was to be sacked. I was unaware of everything until car and dismissal letter arrived. He lives at home
reymax - 12-Nov-15 @ 11:19 AM
potter - Your Question:
I started my probation on the 1 July 2015 I was on a 18 weeks probation I have had probation reviews and they have been happy with my work,attendance and time keeping coming to the end of my probation I have been suspended for failing a reasonable request which I didn't the company wouldn't disclose if it was informal or formal meeting refused me union representatives what can I do

Our Response:
The company should follow the correct procedures for suspending/disciplining or dismissing you. You should be offered a formal interview to which you can take a colleage etc. If you are unsure whether this is being done correctly contact your employer's HR department and then ACAS on 0300 123 1100
SafeWorkers - 11-Nov-15 @ 2:03 PM
I started my probation on the 1 July 2015 I was on a 18 weeks probation I have had probation reviews and they have been happy with my work,attendance and time keeping coming to the end of my probation I have been suspended for failing a reasonable request which I didn't the company wouldn't disclose if it was informal or formal meeting refused me union representatives what can I do
potter - 10-Nov-15 @ 12:49 PM
Hi I've been let go from my job tonight atbthe end of probation period due to absence due to family problems involving kids. Just worried that i may get sanctioned on JSAthe probation ended on good terms and my boss said he willtell them it ended due being unsuitable and said he will give me a good ref for other jobs anytime
Bruma29 - 30-Oct-15 @ 11:00 PM
Hi my daughter works for caring company & had an induction before starting her job caring for a mentaly & disabled lady , her contract states that if she leaves before 2 years she will be charged the induction fee of £425 ,the company did the induction & did not hire an outside firm to do it . Is this legal ?
mac - 19-Oct-15 @ 1:35 PM
I started working in a Company on 13th October 2014 with 6 moth probationary period. After this period, on 1st of april the company gave me a new contract saying that I "passed" on my probabtion period. Last friday, 2nd October I got a big horrible supresied when my manager called me for a meeting and said they have to let me go and saying that they would not renew my contract after this probation period. But I never new I had signed a contract with a 2nd pronatioary period. They said they would pay me only one week notice but "because they want to be nice with me" they will pay me 2 weeks notice period plus holliday. Is that corret ? Shouldn't I receive 1 month notice ? Even because from the second contract, starting on 1st April. I worked for 6month and 2 days. Please help me. Many Thanks Jullie
Julie - 6-Oct-15 @ 10:46 AM
Hi. I have been offered a job at a off licence where I previous worked 3 years ago. They have told me I am on a 3 month trial. To me this seems a bit funny as I know the job well anyway. I used to work with all the staff, so get along very well with them. Also my 3 month period will finish after Christmas?? This seems like to me that they will get rid of me after Christmas
Robyn - 6-Oct-15 @ 10:27 AM
Jpbot - Your Question:
I was employed with a small company that I had a discrepancy with. I started working for the company back in January 2015 and the first week everything seemed OK all the staff were helpful and lovely. I had another job offer with a larger company at the same time as well. This was working for a bigger company. I started working with the smaller company for a week the team was initially impressed and were desperate to take me back and said they would match the salary of the bigger company. See original post below for full comment

Our Response:
If your probationary period passes and you do not hear anything, you can assume you have passed it successfully. Therefore, you were no longer on a probationary period when you were dismissed. The company should have followed their correct procedures for dismissing you, including giving any relevant paid notice. If you feel you were discriminated against because of the Asperger's, you may want to consider action under the Equality Act, but we suggest you seek legal advice from an employment lawyer before doing this.
SafeWorkers - 4-Sep-15 @ 12:41 PM
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