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Probationary Period

Author: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 August 2014 | 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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I have worked for the same company for just under 2 years, after 18 months I applied for an internal transfer but was denied it and it went external, the reason I didn't get it was because my boss new I only wanted it for the car allowance it came with and we had a bit of a fall out after that, anyway the new guy lasted 3 weeks before walking and I was then told if I still wanted the position it was mine. I accepted the role and they put me on a 3 month probation period but after the 3 months they extended it with a monthly review due to my 'communication issues' with my boss, it became clear at this point they wanted rid of me, anyway without notice today I was told I had failed my probation and was being issued my notice which I wasn't required to work and was marched off site without any warning whatsoever. Can they get away with this? It is clear now they only gave me the role so they could sack me without any disciplinary hearing or anything.
Jonnyp138 - 14-Aug-14 @ 8:42 PM
Ive been working for a company for allmost 8 months and was promised a contract after 3 months ive been working Since january and this month i was told there is no more work.so now im out of a job what can i do
d - 6-Aug-14 @ 6:20 PM
@ash. Your probabationary period is usually stated in your contract, sometimes it can be 6 months etc. You do have a right to examine your contract to ascertain this information however, so stand your ground and demand a copy of your employment contract before taking any other action.
SafeWorkers - 4-Aug-14 @ 11:55 AM
Hi there, I was empolyed from march 2014, uponn starting I was never given a contract and when I asked for a contract I was told that H R hasn't sent it yet, on 28th July I get called to the offIve and say my contract will end on 31july 2014. I stand to be corrected but I think after 3months of emeployment you are a permeant staff member and if the employer want to release you from your contract he has to give you a weeks notice if you are employed less than 6months. What can I do about this ? Can I go to CCMA and claim unfair dismissal?
ash - 31-Jul-14 @ 8:33 PM
@H. What does your contract of employment state? Does it mention a specific probation period? Your employer has effectively extended your probation period and can only do this if it's in the terms of your contract.
SafeWorkers - 24-Jul-14 @ 10:27 AM
Hi please can someone help? Since July 13 I was employed by my work and then in January I left for 2 months to another job, that didn't work out and I was asked to come back, I have now been here for over 3 months again, my new business manager now wants to put me and my colleagues on a probation period, even though we all have been here longer than 3 months and wasn't put on a probation period from the start. not sure of the rights here I didn't think they were allowed to do it if you had been there a certain amount of time. Please respond, Thanks
h - 23-Jul-14 @ 3:40 PM
@nikki86. YES you should be paid for any probation period unless you had something in writing to indicate otherwise (e.g if it was a voluntary intern position etc)
SafeWorkers - 22-Jul-14 @ 10:39 AM
I entered employment on other June this year on a months trial period and was then finished for apparently not doing as I was asked but that was rubbish as every jobb given to me was started and completed efficiently, anyway they finished me on the 9th July do the company have to pay me for the trial period I worked 37.5 hrs a week for the month
nikki86 - 21-Jul-14 @ 2:40 PM
Hi have just finished my 3 month probation at webhelp.Having been told i was rubbish at my job. Dispute been top of the sales revenue for the month. I was told non confirmation of employment. Is it worth taking it further?
gillybabe - 20-Jul-14 @ 8:50 AM
@Delboykent. You cannot claim unfair dismissal during a probationary period unless you can prove discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 includes having HIV as a disability, so if you can prove that this is the reason for your failing the probationary period, then yes you could pursue it further.
SafeWorkers - 16-Jul-14 @ 11:58 AM
Hi i was taken on on a 3 mth probation with my new job ! After a mth in i told my employer i was just diagnosed with hiv and a few days later was told that thay need to let me go ! The thing is about a week befor this happend my boss told the guy that itredused us in the firts place was told by my boss thanks for the good staff, whats going on and can i take em to court ???
delboykent - 15-Jul-14 @ 3:05 PM
I have just had my probationary period come to the end, with my employer asking me to finish straight away, and he will pay me the weeks notice. In my contract I had a fully expensed company car, which they have had back straight away. Does the employer need to reimburse me the non use of the vehicle as i do not have it anymore
andy - 14-Jul-14 @ 3:55 PM
I would like an advise in regards of my situation. I am employed on fixed term basis with 6month probation review. it has been 8 months now and I did not have a review. Originally I had 1 weeks notice if I wanted to leave the job. I found new job and my employer says I have to give 4 weeks notice because I can assume that I am on permanent basis if I did not have probation review. I never had any written or verbal confirmation that I have passed my probation. Can I still give just weeks notice? Are they right to say that?
AnaSmolenska - 27-Jun-14 @ 3:38 PM
Hi Shan. It's a difficult situation to be in. Sometimes the people who interview you have not always communicated their thoughts to the people in who are directly working with the new staff member. Do you have a line manager or supervisor? If so, perhaps ask to have a quiet word and explain that you are really keen to learn but that some more effective/official training would take the burden away from those who obviously just trying to get their jobs done. Also...do not be afraid to ask questions, it's better to ask than to risk getting it wrong. Good luck.
SafeWorkers - 24-Jun-14 @ 11:35 AM
I started a new job approximately 6 weeks ago.I was told that although I do not have any experience that they were more than willing to train me.And since this is what I am in school for I figured why not get a head start.Well here it 6 weeks later and I have received very inadequate training.During my evaluation I was told that I am not assertive enough in learning new tasks. As far as I was concerned they knew I had no experience, which means I need training right?Plus, every time I ask a question I feel as if I am an inconvenience which only makes it harder to ask more questions.Not sure if I am be treating unjustly or if I am in the wrong in not being assertive enough.
Shan - 23-Jun-14 @ 1:32 AM
I was hired in a company with 3 months probation but after six weeks learning all the manual accounting, they told me that i dont fit the job. Is it fair?
Lei - 21-Jun-14 @ 7:23 AM
Joanne Wing. It's a scare tactic. As long as you give your notice in correctly (eg giving the correct notice period etc), they cannot withhold any wages you are actually owed.
SafeWorkers - 18-Jun-14 @ 11:20 AM
I have been worki g for a company for 3 weeksnow and have been messed around right from the start regarding rotas and various other things . I have not signed an agreement of any kind but have been told that if I leave I will forfit any wages owing to me .is this right or just a scare tactic?
Joanne Wing - 17-Jun-14 @ 3:47 PM
Gina. Why not ask what the Extended Plan of Action involves? It may be something offered to all those who have successfully completed a probationary year. If not, you should be given an explanation and some details of what is expected from you in writing.
gorillagums - 16-Jun-14 @ 11:40 AM
Hello,can my supervisor put me on extended plan of action for the next year? I've already completed the first time this year with success! What can I do?
Gina - 13-Jun-14 @ 2:16 PM
I have been offered a job just last week ,and now have to fill in a health form to see if i am fit for the role. If they find that my health is not 100% can they releave me from this position?
DEE - 9-Jun-14 @ 2:32 PM
I just want to find out if a contract expires and you still working for a company how many days/months notice would you have to produce? And are you entitled to leave if you give 24 hrs notice? Thanks would really appreciate the help
kerisha - 29-May-14 @ 7:26 AM
What rights do you have if your on a 6 month probation, and then after 7 1/2 months your told your going onto a improvement plan, which leads to your dismissal? And that you've had very little feedback in the first 7 1/2 months and not had all of your 1-2-1's?
Daz - 22-May-14 @ 10:05 PM
My wife started a job and is still in her probation period.Now they say she must sign a contract for a lower wage to continue because they are stopping paying a higher wage to qualified staff.She was recruited through a recruitment agency, so if she leaves they will not get the entire fee the company paid for her.Is this tactic legal? You get highly qualified staff on a low wage, or you don't have to pay much to your recruitment agent.Also, the recruitment agent won't put her back on their books yet, because she hasn't put in the correct amount of time.It all seems a bit fishy.
iltfitk - 29-Apr-14 @ 12:17 PM
Hello iam a nanny for 2kids iam woking for the canadiennes people for 1year and 5moths.i never signed the contract .last. Year on june i found that i was pregnant ,i told them my bossask me why i didnt make abortion?i says i cant.and i did work untill the end.january 2014 .they never to me any things igive birth on february .they. Didnt tell me for how many months i have to stayat home ?and never paying me for the leave.now it almost 3months.and iam stragly .where can i stand with this?please help
love - 23-Apr-14 @ 2:30 AM
Worked at a CompAny for 19 yearS the property was leased and now expireS. We were oFfered alternate employment within the group and I. Took one on a probation period which was if I did not like it I could come back before probation period ended which I did would I still have rights as the other emPloyeeS to the severence pay
none - 11-Apr-14 @ 8:05 PM
I've started a new job on Jan 2014 im on a 3 months probation period, I have recently found out that I'm pregnant, I have told my boss. I have asked that I would like to work up until end of May 2014 my probation runs out in March 2014. he said he's not going to extend it and wouldn't give me a reason why and said that he doesn't have too. Is this the correct way to treat an employee? I haven't even had a chat to see how my job is going etc... I wasn't given a contract... Am I entitled to a weeks notice? I leave next Friday 28th March. Please help, I have found out that I was further gone with my pregnancy baby due 1/7/2014.
Hbella33 - 20-Mar-14 @ 3:16 PM
Im 3 months into my probationary period and am not happy. I've not yet had a contract of employment but in the staff handbook it says I have to give 2 months notice.I have resigned and they tell me they are holding me to that. Could they sue me if I don't go back to work at the end of one months notice?
maidmarianuk - 8-Dec-13 @ 2:13 AM
I'm 7 weeks into my 13week trial period at work and am going out on sick leave can my new employer let me go after my 13weeks if I'm still out on sick leave and if they do let me go can I still claim sick leave
Cole - 22-Oct-13 @ 12:20 PM
I have worked for my employer for 18 years I have just moved into a new department (6 weeks ago) and have just found out that I am pregnent. If my employer has to move me out of the department for health & safety reasons while I am pregnant will I still be entitled to move back into this department after my pregnancy ?
angie - 12-Oct-13 @ 7:59 PM
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