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Probationary Period

Author: Jeff Durham - Updated: 29 January 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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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
@S3321. As a long standing employee you would have the right to claim unfair dismissal if you considered it to be so. You also have the right to more notice depending on length of service. It's probably better not to worry, it is may be a standard contract that is given to all employees.
SafeWorkers - 24-Nov-14 @ 12:21 PM
Hi I have worked for a company for nearly 3 years in a position and have done well. I have transferred over to a different position within the same company, but a different role. I have been told I have to pass my 3 months probation? If I do not pass can I just be dismissed even though I have continued service?
s3321 - 21-Nov-14 @ 4:32 PM
@Jo. It depends on the reasons for not passing your probationary period. If it was because you were overqualified, then you will have to explain that to any potential employer. Perhaps you can have a chat with your previous employer about the good/bad things they are prepared to say about you in any reference. Many people fail probationary periods for a variety of reasons, so it is not entirely unusual.
SafeWorkers - 17-Nov-14 @ 10:29 AM
Hi, I started a fix term contract (9 months) with a 3 month probationary period.I was excited about this opportunity at first but once started realized quickly that it wasn't what I thought it would be.It wasn't a great environment to work in and I felt undervalued as wasn't given work that I was supposed to do yet rather that of someone 3 grades below me (which was fine as it was work instead of me twiddling my thumbs all day).I didn't pass my probation, which wasn't a shocked to me, and actually was quite a relief to be leaving. My only concern is how will this affect me when trying to get a new job? Some employers require a recent reference from your last job.If i was to give them my last employer would they ruin my chances of getting another job elsewhere? Thank you Jo
Jo - 17-Nov-14 @ 12:12 AM
@viviennewatson. You are taking the right approach. State your case and the circumstances surrounding the periods of sickness. If you have an idea about whether there are likely to be follow up appointments or future periods of absence, then it's fair to let your employer know about that too. Your union rep will be able to help you with any legalities and to make sure the hearing is conducted properly.
SafeWorkers - 10-Nov-14 @ 2:11 PM
I stared my job as a temp in sept 2013 and was offered afixterm contract in jan 2014 and permenant contract in march 2014. I have bedn unfortunate to have had a laparoscopy in jan off for 5days with a sick note due to pelvic back pain whuch has been resolved. Ive had a further 5days in april with diabetes and an additional 7 weeks due to cervical spine surgery recovery. I was still in my probatiobary period throughout as it is a p see ti I d of 10 months, and on return have been told I hsve haveattend a probationary hearing due to my sickness absence. None of my sicknesses could have been avoided as the surgery in both instances were necessary. The hospital gave less than 5 days notice for the surgery date of the 16/9/14. I am so distressed at the possibility of being fired which the hearing letter states could be a possible outcome. Im in a union for all its worth and a union rep will accompany me to the hearing. I have used all my annual leave to attend hospital appointment so that it didnt impede my employment and my one to ones with my line manager have always been exempkary so my work ability havenever bedn in question.My manager feels it a very unfortunate situstion which couldnt gave been avoided but the hearing will solely be a bout tge 46 days of sickness and the wsy thus has effected the business.I intended to argue my case in front if the panel as they are not dusputing that my sickness is genuine just the time i have had off sick and I have to show that there was no way I could have avoided it. Can anyone give me an opinion
Vivienne Watson - 8-Nov-14 @ 10:56 AM
@jonesy24. You cannot be sacked for being pregnant. This would be contravention of the Equality Act 2010.
SafeWorkers - 7-Nov-14 @ 2:07 PM
hi I started my new in August and I'm currently in my probabtion period This ends 10 December but iv just found out I'm pregnant I'm scared they will sack me I really want to continue working for them after please could you give me some advice? Thanks
jonesy24 - 6-Nov-14 @ 7:28 AM
@hannah. There's nothing to stop them doing this. YOu should make sure that the reasons for your leaving you previous job are clear on any future job applications. It may be worth contact the new company and explaining anyway.
SafeWorkers - 3-Nov-14 @ 11:19 AM
Hi I started working for a cleaning company in November but gave my notice in March due to leaving the area and the fact it would not be possible to travel to work due to the long distance . I gave my notice and even trained up other new worker . I have recently applied for a job and need a reference from my previous employer and they have refused to give one stating I didn't complete my probationary period . Can they do this as without the reference I am unable to take on the new job . Any advice will be great . Thanks
Hannah - 31-Oct-14 @ 11:19 PM
@Louby - it will all be included in the contract she was given either by the temping agency if she went through one, or by the company.
SafeWorkers - 31-Oct-14 @ 1:57 PM
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