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Probationary Period

Author: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 May 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]
@stephen 22. If they see frequent or prolonged sick absences as a reason for poor performance then yes.
SafeWorkers - 19-May-15 @ 11:32 AM
@bobbie. You should be able to claim JSA as a probationary period is to see whether you are right for the job/fit in with the company as much as it's to do with your performance.
SafeWorkers - 19-May-15 @ 11:27 AM
I was on probation and ill with sickness can they end my probitional period while I'm sick
stephen22 - 14-May-15 @ 8:21 PM
I have come to the end of my probation and had a meeting with my managers and they have said that they are extending my probation for two more weeks, if im let go will I be able to claim job seekers or is being let go after probation the same as being fired?
bobbie - 14-May-15 @ 7:04 PM
@mouse. Yes you should be paid for any work you have actually completed.
SafeWorkers - 17-Apr-15 @ 10:00 AM
If you get fired from your work after a week do you still get that weeks wage
mouse - 16-Apr-15 @ 5:45 AM
@jones. It depends on what was agreed at the time. If you were told it was temporary then you could be posted back to your previous role. Your best course of action would be to speak with your manager/management team and ask whether it can be made permanent.
SafeWorkers - 8-Apr-15 @ 12:27 PM
@Donna171. If your promotions have all taken place under the same employer/with the same company, you will not receive a new contract. Any new conditions are usually added to your existing contract. The initial terms will apply in terms of notice unless you've been told otherwise, so you can comfortably assume that your notice period is one month.
SafeWorkers - 7-Apr-15 @ 1:06 PM
I have been working for a companyfor 5 years. I took a job as a team leader ona temporary post for 6 months. 16 month later I'm still in the team leader post. With in the same company. My questionis can they take the team leader post of me. Even thoughnothing has been signed.
jones - 5-Apr-15 @ 7:34 PM
I work in a nursery and in May 2014 I signed my contract and was on a 6 month probation and it said that need to give 1 month notice to leave after the probation is up. Then in Aug 2014 I got promoted to Room Leader and had no new contract. And then in Sept 2014 got the Assistant Deputy Manager job and still to this day I've had no new contract. I am looking for a new job and want to know where I stand for my notice as I want to give the least amount of notice I can as they have already replaced me so just want to go now without walking out.
donna171 - 2-Apr-15 @ 4:37 PM
@marksie. 14 months is a long time to keep you on without giving you any signs that your work was not good enough. You say that you were told that your probationary period would be extend in July 2014 for 3 months. Therefore, you can realistically assume that by November had passed your probationary period and were a full employee of the company by default (see this article for more detail on this) - therefore they cannot have dismissed you for failing a probationary period. Make sure the company followed all the relevant procedures and that you have written reasons for your dismissal. Unfortunately you cannot claim unfair dismissal until you've worked for an employer for two years, but if the company has not followed correct procedures, you may have a case for wrongful dismissal. You should seek advice from the Citizen's Advice Bureau, ACAS or an employment law specialist.
SafeWorkers - 2-Apr-15 @ 10:24 AM
@bob. It sounds as though your contract has been breached. Ask the employer why. Also ask that your sick record is amended. If you suspect they are acting unscrupulously or in breach of contract and won't address it then contact ACAS or your union (if there is one).
SafeWorkers - 1-Apr-15 @ 2:39 PM
At 19 I started my first job 2nd jan 2014 with a 6 month probationary period. In July I was told it would be extended by 3 months. I have never received anything in writing regarding areas for improvement or further training needs etc. my manager hasn't been the easiest person to work for but verbally I was told I was doing ok and have worked on call outs on my own at weekends , been given a works van and all seemed great. 2 weeks ago I received my invite to end if orobationary review meeting with HR and my managers manager. 14 months since I started and I have had my contract terminated due to failing probationary period. I am devastated and can't believe I can be treated like this as I had made the assumption I had passed as nothing had been said since end of October. I can appeal, but do I have a case?
Marksie - 30-Mar-15 @ 1:46 PM
I have been a registered care home manager for over a year. It was stated on my contract that I would get a managers induction, formal handover to site and a 6 month probationary period where I would then get confirmation of a permanent contract. None of the above have happened. Are the company in breach of their legal obligation to me ? They have sent me a letter of concern saying I need to monitor my sick levels. I haven't been sick ! Please help or advise.
Bob - 30-Mar-15 @ 6:45 AM
@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
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