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Probationary Period

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 May 2018 | 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]
Karina - Your Question:
Hi, My 6 months probation ends next week with a review appointment but I am not happy with the job. In my contract it says I have to give 1 months' notice after probation but there is no term about the notice required before probation ends. Does this mean I can give two weeks' notice?

Our Response:
No, the notice period in your contract will apply if there is no other notice period mentioned.
SafeWorkers - 9-May-18 @ 3:47 PM
Hi, My 6 months probation ends next week with a review appointment but I am not happy with the job. In my contract it says I have to give 1 months' notice after probation but there is no term about the notice required before probation ends. Does this mean I can give two weeks' notice?
Karina - 9-May-18 @ 3:33 PM
Lu - Your Question:
Hi, I really need an advice what to do. I found out I'm pregnant and I'm still on my probation period. I will have to tell them company about my pregnancy before the end of my probation. I'm afraid they might release me because of that under some other excuse (even though they would not have to pay me maternity pay, because I'm too short with them to qualify). Also, looks like they are downsizing a lot and maybe would use the opportunity to get rid of me even if I wouldn't be pregnant. I will be in a very difficult financial situation anyway - is there anything I can do to make them pass me through probation and keep me until I go on maternity leave? It would make me financial difference of 3-4months of salary. Please help

Our Response:
You must tell your employer you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week in which your baby's due so it may be that you can complete your probationary period before telling them. Note that you cannot be dismissed because of pregnancy and if you are it may constitute discrimination. Please see our Guide which tells you your rights during pregnancy.
SafeWorkers - 4-May-18 @ 3:26 PM
Hi, I really need an advice what to do. I found out I'm pregnant and I'm still on my probation period. I will have to tell them company about my pregnancy before the end of my probation. I'm afraid they might release me because of that under some other excuse (even though they would not have to pay me maternity pay, because I'm too short with them to qualify). Also, looks like they are downsizing a lot and maybe would use the opportunity to get rid of me even if I wouldn't be pregnant. I will be in a very difficult financial situation anyway - is there anything I can do to make them pass me through probation and keep me until I go on maternity leave? It would make me financial difference of 3-4months of salary... Please help
Lu - 3-May-18 @ 3:05 PM
I started a new job and signed a contract that said permanent. Last week my employer came to me and said I was having a review about my job has to weather I was keeping my job or not. I was never told when I started that I was on a 6months trial/probation period i was told the job was mine and my contract said permanent. Today (20.4.18) They came in and gave me a review and have sacked me and said I'm no good at the job. There has been no complaints made about me or my work and my boss has not had weekly fortnightly meetings with me to discuss any issues. Are they able to sack me and are they able to say after me being there for 6months that I'm on trial even though my contract says permanent
Jo - 20-Apr-18 @ 9:48 PM
Amal - Your Question:
I wanted to know if I could have two months off work. I am on my probationary period and I have to undertake a fulltime placement for uni what are my rights?

Our Response:
You need to ask your employer about this as it will depend on their policy.
SafeWorkers - 20-Apr-18 @ 3:29 PM
I wanted to know if I could have two months off work. I am on my probationary period and I have to undertake a fulltime placement for uni what are my rights?
Amal - 18-Apr-18 @ 6:17 PM
1 and half month into probation. But signed off due to some health conditions. But deciding not to go back due to health and can't work my notice will they still pay me?
Sara - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:49 PM
klou- Your Question:
Hi, my 16-y/o daughter applied for a position that was advertised as 2-3 days per week. She worked a three hour unpaid ‘interview’ slot (which was actually training) before being offered the job (no contract). She has since worked 38 hours for them in one week, being heavily questioned each time she wants to take a day off. She no longer wishes to work there (understandable) but has been told that she will have to pay a £40 uniform deposit (she has not been given a uniform) and £100 admin fee if she leaves before 6th July. I’m assuming this is some kind of probationary period but it seems they are breaching all kinds of rules?

Our Response:
This sounds highly unethical. If she wasn't told about the repayable fees it's unlikely she can be made to repay the employer. Phone ACAS or contact Citizens' Advice. They may be able to talk to the employer on your daughter's behalf.
SafeWorkers - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:39 PM
Hi, my 16-y/o daughter applied for a position that was advertised as 2-3 days per week. She worked a three hour unpaid ‘interview’ slot (which was actually training) before being offered the job (no contract). She has since worked 38 hours for them in one week, being heavily questioned each time she wants to take a day off. She no longer wishes to work there (understandable) but has been told that she will have to pay a £40 uniform deposit (she has not been given a uniform) and £100 admin fee if she leaves before 6th July. I’m assuming this is some kind of probationary period but it seems they are breaching all kinds of rules?
klou - 13-Apr-18 @ 5:45 PM
Dan74 - Your Question:
I’m currently 2 and a half months into a 6 month probation period. The training has involved travelling 230 miles to training centre with food and hotels provided. My contract states I am liable to pay some or all of the costs of training/travel/tools supplied/food etc. Does this apply during the probation period as I am considering an offer from another business? Also my contract states I will be informed of my current liability from time to time. As of yet I have had no information. Thank you.

Our Response:
It's quite common for employers to recoup training costs if an employee leaves before a specified period of time.
SafeWorkers - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:06 PM
I’m currently 2 and a half months into a 6 month probation period. The training has involved travelling 230 miles to training centre with food and hotels provided. My contract states I am liable to pay some or all of the costs of training/travel/tools supplied/food etc. Does this apply during the probation period as I am considering an offer from another business? Also my contract states I will be informed of my current liability from time to time. As of yet I have had no information. Thank you.
Dan74 - 10-Apr-18 @ 3:57 PM
my son started work and was on a probationary period.when he started he signed a contract to say that if he left during a specific period then he would be liable for paying back training costs.My son was off due to stress for 2 months during his probation time and they then extended the period for 2 months.He went back for his review and they said he was doing really well but to be sure would extend it for another month.during that time he made a few mistakes and when he had his review they said they would not pass him and that his employment would end forthwith.He has now received a letter asking him to pay back over £1000 for his training due to him leaving.He didnt leave it wasnt his choice they ended his employment.is he liable to repay these costs?
Mel - 28-Mar-18 @ 2:30 PM
Fran- Your Question:
I went to an induction for a job within a care Agency and I had to give a £20 deposit which I was told towards phone and uniform. I told the coordinator within an hour that I didn't think the job was for me. She persuaded me to stay for the induction. I called her this morning and said I didn't want to work for Company and asked for my £20 back and told I cannot have it as they have enrolled me on an inline training course. So I said ok can I do the online training course and benefit from it and told no we print certificates here at our end. It's the principle of the £20 that's bugging me. Is there anything I can do about this.

Our Response:
You should really be given a refund or the opportunity to do the training but check the terms of the contract to be sure.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-18 @ 2:31 PM
I went to an induction for a job within a care Agency and I had to give a £20 deposit which I was told towards phone and uniform. I told the coordinator within an hour that I didn't think the job was for me. She persuaded me to stay for the induction. I called her this morning and said I didn't want to work for Company and asked for my £20 back and told I cannot have it as they have enrolled me on an inline training course. So I said ok can I do the online training course and benefit from it and told no we print certificates here at our end. It's the principle of the £20 that's bugging me. Is there anything I can do about this.
Fran - 13-Mar-18 @ 10:54 AM
Oa - Your Question:
Hi, I'm currently 3 weeks into my 3 month probation period but have already decided this job is not for me, if I was to leave before my pay day will I still receive the pay for the hours I've worked? Thanks.

Our Response:
Yes as long as you submit the required notice, you should be paid for all hours worked. If you fail to work your notice, your employer can deduct this from your final payment.
SafeWorkers - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:28 PM
Hi, I'm currently 3 weeks into my 3 month probation period but have already decided this job is not for me, if I was to leave before my pay day will I still receive the pay for the hours I've worked? Thanks.
Oa - 9-Mar-18 @ 12:48 PM
Now I amin probation period of 3months. And my contract is 3years agreement. I don't want to continue this job. Can I able to leave this job.
Sai - 7-Mar-18 @ 7:05 PM
Jakub - Your Question:
Hi. My colleague passed probation period but recently they put him back on probation period. Is it legal to be put back on even after he passed it?

Our Response:
No, you can't simply be put back on a probationary period. If an employee is not working to the required standards, he/she should be dealt with via the usual disciplinary procedures as a full employee.
SafeWorkers - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:31 AM
Hi. My colleague passed probation period but recently they put him back on probation period. Is it legal to be put back on even after he passed it?
Jakub - 3-Mar-18 @ 3:30 PM
Loyal-D - Your Question:
Hi, I started a job 2 1/2 months ago and when I started I was told I would be in a senior position which was unexpected because my contract does not state this. I went along with it but it's causing me a lot of stress and upset so I know I can't stay there. My contract says "There will be a three month probationary period during which either party can terminate the contract with one week's notice" Does that mean I have to give notice and work the 1 week before the end of my probationary period, or I can hand my notice right at the end of my probation and work 1 week's notice into month 4?Thanks.

Our Response:
As long as you hand your notice in before the probationary period ends, the notice required during the probationary period will apply.
SafeWorkers - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:37 PM
Hi, I started a job 2 1/2 months ago and when I started I was told I would be in a senior position which was unexpected because my contract does not state this. I went along with it but it's causing me a lot of stress and upset so I know I can't stay there. My contract says "There will be a three month probationary period during which either party can terminate the contract with one week's notice" Does that mean I have to give notice and work the 1 week before the end of my probationary period, or I can hand my notice right at the end of my probation and work 1 week's notice into month 4? Thanks.
Loyal-D - 18-Feb-18 @ 5:05 PM
Greenbird - Your Question:
I’ve been working as a contractor for 2 years for a company. They recently made me permanent with a probationary period of 6 months. However I am currently pregnant and need to go off on maternity leave half way through my probation period. Can they put this period on hold till I return back from maternity.

Our Response:
Don't forget the probationary period has no real legal status - it would be unlikely and unreasonable to extend your probationary period to this extent especially as you've already worked as a contractor for 2 years.
SafeWorkers - 29-Jan-18 @ 1:50 PM
I’ve been working as a contractor for 2 years for a company. They recently made me permanent with a probationary period of 6 months. However I am currently pregnant and need to go off on maternity leave half way through my probation period. Can they put this period on hold till I return back from maternity.
Greenbird - 27-Jan-18 @ 10:36 AM
Hello. If contract says that probation period is 6 month. During the period of 6 month no one call for any meeting and than after working with the company more than 10 month they are sending a letter for the probational meeting, should I accept it? Can they still do it? As it's already 4 months as probation period finished.
HxR - 22-Jan-18 @ 3:17 PM
GV - Your Question:
I have just had my six month probation review and been told verbally it is being extended for a further six months due to me not currently meeting company standards. My contract and company handbook states I should have received regular review meetings to highlight any issues or training required.I have never had any feedback or meetings throughout the six months so had no idea that I was not meeting standards. I feel devastated and confused as I thought I had been doing well with no feedback to suggest otherwise. My faith in the company has now been totally destroyed and am now on tender hooks if I will lose my job at a moments notice. Any advice? Should I resign

Our Response:
Don't resign, let your employer know how devastated you feel and ask for a schedule of objectives and reviews etc. Take it as as positive that they have extended your probationary period rather than simply dismissing you. Even if you stay in the job for 12 months it will look better than 6 on a CV etc and you never know, you may find your feet and start to improve/enjoy the job. If your contract says you are entitled to regular reviews, make sure you get them.
SafeWorkers - 16-Jan-18 @ 10:46 AM
I have just had my six month probation review and been told verbally it is being extended for a further six months due to me not currently meeting company standards. My contract and company handbook states I should have received regular review meetings to highlight any issues or training required. I have never had any feedback or meetings throughout the six months so had no idea that I was not meeting standards. I feel devastated and confused as I thought I had been doing well with no feedback to suggest otherwise. My faith in the company has now been totally destroyed and amnow on tender hooks if I will lose my job at a moments notice. Any advice? Should I resign
GV - 13-Jan-18 @ 11:02 AM
MissSmiley - Your Question:
Hello,I’ve worked with a company for 8 months now, however, I’ve not had a 6month review or any comfirmation that I have completed my probation or even if it has been extended. I’m now wanting to give in a generous notice period of a month but my manager is arguing that I have to give longer as I’ve worked there 8 months. Should a probation period be comfirmed to the employee once completed?

Our Response:
Once a probationary period has ended, you can assume you have passed it successfully if you do not hear from your employer. You are therefore a full employee and the notice period in your contract will apply.
SafeWorkers - 10-Jan-18 @ 3:47 PM
Hello, I’ve worked with a company for 8 months now, however, I’ve not had a 6month review or any comfirmation that I have completed my probation or even if it has been extended. I’m now wanting to give in a generous notice period of a month but my manager is arguing that I have to give longer as I’ve worked there 8 months. Should a probation period be comfirmed to the employee once completed?
MissSmiley - 10-Jan-18 @ 7:18 AM
Scottish- Your Question:
HiIm on a 6 month probation period. I'm almost 5 months into it. I would really like to reduce my hours from 39 to 24. due to personal circumstances and childcare issues. Am I entitled to ask for this change whilst still in my probation period? I really want to reduce my hours asap. Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
All employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks are eligible to apply for flexible working (which includes changing the times of work or reducing hours etc). We assume you haven't yet worked for 26 weeks so may have to work a little longer. When you do make the request, bear in mind that your employer does not have to agree to the request but must give it reasonable consideration and offer a valid business reason for refusing.
SafeWorkers - 9-Jan-18 @ 12:24 PM
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