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Probationary Period

Author: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 August 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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HWview - Your Question:
I am on 6 months probation but have suffered 2 bereavements and now illness which has led to me taking a total of ten days off. My manager has been very good and even paid me for the bereavement days I was off. I offered to pay for a doctor certificate but he declined but I'm so worried they might let me go. He has praised my work and I know when I am in work I am making a difference. What can I do so they don't let me go.

Our Response:
You will just have to trust that the work you have done while you've been in has been good enough. You can't do anything about bereavements, but you need to ensure all illness absences are absolutely unavoidable.
SafeWorkers - 24-Aug-15 @ 11:27 AM
I am on 6 months probation but have suffered 2 bereavements and now illness which has led to me taking a total of ten days off. My manager has been very good and even paid me for the bereavement days I was off. I offered to pay for a doctor certificate but he declined but I'm so worried they might let me go. He has praised my work and I know when I am in work I am making a difference. What can I do so they don't let me go.
HWview - 21-Aug-15 @ 8:01 AM
I joined a company in March-my contract says i am on probation until september then i have to give 1 months notice if i wish to leave. I took on the job only if I would get to attend college and train professionally in my profession- this was agreed by all parties but I had to be employed 1 year before they would commit. Anyway my boss approached me and offered me a place at college starting in September.as they are very happy with my work and i am well qualified to attend the course....I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity. However this has caused ill-feeling towards me from other staff who have been employed there for 5 years and not had the opportunity to attend college. (the said parties do not have the required qualifications and have not gained any qualifications to prove to the bosses they are committed to the business,( I have spent £1000 on the required qualifications to attend the course), they have not asked to be considered a college place either, so I dont know why I am being victimised, but they are making my working day a nightmare, refuse to talk to me etc....the boss wont do anything as the other 2 staff are on less pay than me. I cant work there any more as I want to go to college and this is obviously going to cause a massive rift with long-term staff and me! Do I just need to give1 weeks notice since I have not reached my 6 month probationary period?
deedee - 14-Aug-15 @ 3:49 PM
my probationary period ends on 9/09 as a months notice and I have been told that I have not passed my 6 month probationary period, although my probationary period does end until 30/09 can I ask to be paid up to this date not 9/09
baz - 10-Aug-15 @ 4:36 PM
I am 2 weeks into my probationary period at a new job, the work is already stressing me out and and realise this type of work is not for me, can I leave and go back on JSA while I look for alternative wprk? Will I be sanctioned by JSA for leaving while on probation
unhappya - 9-Aug-15 @ 12:55 PM
I have recently been informed that I have passed my probationary period in my contract based position(due to end 30 September 2015). I have been interviewed for the position which will be made permanent as of 1 October 2015. I was informed at the interview that I would have to undergo a further probationary period of 6 months if successful in my application. The job role is identical for both positions. As I have already proven my ability in the temporary role. Can the company insist that I work a further 6 months as a probationary employee? I would appreciate comments please.
Corky - 8-Aug-15 @ 12:16 PM
I have signed a contract stating after 6 months my probation period ends but I did not receive a letter or had a further interview saying that I am off my probation period to permanent employment. I would like to leave after 8 months but do I still need to complete my full notice period for permanent employment even though they haven't said I am permanent? or can I leave with the probation period notice instead?
dental nurse - 7-Aug-15 @ 5:56 PM
My daughter had recently completed her 6 months probation and chat with boss seemed to go well, they talked about how she would progress.However a week later she received a letter stating they were disappointed with progression and verbally told it was through no fault of hers but the company situation and imminent company move, not enough training had been given to her.As you can appreciate she was taken aback by this.Letter also stated her probation has been extended for a further 6 months.My question is, how much notice does she need to give now as she has opportunity of another job.Is it still 1 week?
Mumsy - 4-Aug-15 @ 7:23 PM
@LeloucheGB. No if they did not informed you at the time the probationary period ended, you can consider it to have been successful. The case law backing this up is the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in 2007 Przybylska v Modus Telecom Limited. Where an employer does not extend within the initial probationary period, they lose their right to extend the probation. Therefore, the probationary period is completed by ‘default’
SafeWorkers - 30-Jul-15 @ 12:21 PM
hello Guys, i have a question: i finished my probation of 6 month, now it's almost one month that it's ended and my company didn't give me any review or any contract. I asked to my manger about it but he told me to wait, they can do that? if i was not terminated that means that my prob it's finish? Thank you for any answer.
LeloucheGB - 28-Jul-15 @ 9:01 PM
@bluebird. If it's company policy there's not a great deal you can do. If however, you feel it is an 'unreasonable' policy, contact ACAS to see whether it's worth challenging.
SafeWorkers - 14-Jul-15 @ 2:10 PM
@leandro. No, you are a full employee of the company and should give the requisite notice period.
SafeWorkers - 14-Jul-15 @ 2:08 PM
I'm in a very similar position to Leandro. However my probationary period is the result of changing jobs in the same company. I questioned the probationary period at the time, having already completed this less than a year ago, but was told this was standard. I've just passed the three month mark but have completed no paperwork to this effect. After the probationary period my notice, for an entry level role just above minimum wage, increases from one month to three. Is there any support for me to work only one month's notice?
Bluebird - 9-Jul-15 @ 7:05 PM
I'm working as permanent employee for a company. I started in February and my contract says that my probation period is 3 months. After that I should give 2 months notice period if I want to quit. I didn't sign any agreement/review after my probation stating that it ended and they are OK with me. Now I have the chance to leave the company and I would like to leave it in one month. Is there any legal support for me to leave before the 2 months since I didn't sign after the 3 months any review? Thanks in advice.
Leandro - 9-Jul-15 @ 6:28 PM
@nickking. You can be dismissed in your probationary period for a variety of reasons unfortunately. Wait and seewhat happens before worrying too much about this.
SafeWorkers - 2-Jul-15 @ 2:33 PM
@Taz. They can unfortunately dismiss you quite easily during your probationary period. If you feel your accident was due to their negligence you could try appealing.
SafeWorkers - 30-Jun-15 @ 12:31 PM
I have been working for nearly 3months in to my 3months probation. I was 2 hours in to my shift and I placed my foot under my truck with out relsing and turned away and twisted my knee. I approached a manger and nothing was done or said apart from laughing. I carried on and toke some pain killers. I did my hole shift. Came home and leg swelled up and I went to the doctors they think I may have twisted my knee... I called my manger to say I had been signed of and she was her normal helpful self. Later that night I got a call from another manger asking to take a accident form ova the phone. Which I complied with. I am very worried Il lose my job as I asked is this going to cause me problems and his reply was its not looking good. A accicdent in ur probation is not good. No stock or company propety was hurt. I carried on with my work after being laughed at and mocked. Can they just fire me
nickking - 29-Jun-15 @ 10:34 PM
Hi I work as a carer and am on a 6 months probation I was out one night and slipped and hurt my back. I put in3 weeks sick lines at work but when I tried to go back to work thay sacked me and said I have to work my two weeks notice.can thay do this.
Taz - 27-Jun-15 @ 12:24 AM
@MK. If her contract states a month's notice then that is what she should work and be paid for unless the employers will agree to an alternative.
SafeWorkers - 26-Jun-15 @ 12:08 PM
@charlie as long as you did not take more than your holiday entitlement during that period, you should not have to pay it back. See our further guide to probationary periods
SafeWorkers - 23-Jun-15 @ 11:31 AM
@Darky.You should have been given a contract (and should have asked for one when you started) in fact you should still insist on a contract even though you are leaving. If your employer has asked you to work your notice, it's always better to do so.
SafeWorkers - 22-Jun-15 @ 2:16 PM
My friends daughter was employed as a receptionist (3 month probation) at a salon.She was then approached by the owner to do eyelashes as well.She has passed the probation period,now they find her work unsatisfactory,they say she not doing well in product sales and is not doing enough lashes and have given her targets till the end of the month to reach to keep her job. But on Friday they gave her a letter to say she must go. She can leave and get part of her salary or stay till the end of the month and get a full salary.Should they not have to pay a full months salary as notice,because they said they were only going to access her at the end of the month and she has it in writing,the probation is also over and she is not doing what she was employed to do.
MK - 22-Jun-15 @ 9:50 AM
Hi I was enticed away from a permanent job with the promise of heading up a small team with a new company. Now my probationary three months is up and there is no team and no pay rise. He says I am a good worker and doesn't want to lose me but he wont give me a contract. He is re assessing my position in the workforce. Nothing in writing about the original agreement.I dont feel safe or secure.
dispairing - 20-Jun-15 @ 6:36 PM
@becks. It depends what the terms of your contract state. If a child related emergency occurs you are entitled to unpaid leave to attend to it.If it's generally that you have not made arrangements for childcare to fit around your shifts however, your employer may have decided that this is too much of a problem to keep you on (especially at this early stage in your employment with them).
SafeWorkers - 18-Jun-15 @ 9:50 AM
I am currently 2 months 2 weeks into my probation and will be giving my notice in next week as I have found a new job. I have took some holiday during my probation period. Will I have to pay this back? Or get paid the rest of what holiday I'm owed how does it work :/
Charlie - 18-Jun-15 @ 8:40 AM
I am a few days from the end of my probation period and I have found a new job. I asked for a copy of my contract so I could see if I had to give notice and was told I didn't have one, I rang to say I had a new job and was told I had to give two weeks notice but they will let me finish this week so I don't lose my job. But the work I am meant to be doing is after the date of my probation ending, do I have to work it?
Darky - 17-Jun-15 @ 9:33 AM
@Her. We don't have enough detail to comment too much on this, but you cannot be put back on probation once you have passed. If you have received a formal warning, your performance may be being monitored but this should not have affected your employee status or your pay. Call ACAS for more advice, but make sure you have all the relevant information to hand. The number is 0300 123 1100
SafeWorkers - 16-Jun-15 @ 9:58 AM
@Ani. YOu will have to check with your company to see what the policy is. Just because they have to give you one week's notice does not mean that you have the same committment.
SafeWorkers - 15-Jun-15 @ 2:29 PM
I am on a probation am due to work a shift but cannot find someone to look after my daughter so my employer says I have to still go in and work the shift even tho I have no babysitter the employer has text me to hand in my notice by mobile text can they do this what can I do
Becks - 13-Jun-15 @ 12:26 PM
@Philthevoid. In general if you have not heard anything, you are deemed to have passed.
SafeWorkers - 12-Jun-15 @ 11:55 AM
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