Home > Employment Law > Probationary Period

Probationary Period

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 7 Aug 2017 | 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?

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have worked as a temp for 3 years doing the same job ,during this period for the first 6 months I was on probation and a lower rate of pay which went up after 12 and 24 weeks, now I have been offered a permenant role doing the same job and they want to drop my wages to complete the same probationary period again . Is this normal and legal ?
Guffmonkey - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:50 PM
AH1991 - Your Question:
I have just completed a probationary period at a job, however was not kept on. I am due my final wage from the company this month, despite being on a probationary period I am still entitled to me wage, is this correct?

Our Response:
Yes you are entitled to be paid for any work you've completed.
SafeWorkers - 30-Jun-17 @ 10:35 AM
Cracker - Your Question:
Hi I'm currently on an apprenticeship that's not for me and already past my probationary period, what is the law regarding me quiting by the way I live in the uk

Our Response:
All apprenticeships have different terms. Some ask that you pay costs back if you don't complete etc. Check the terms and conditions your were given at the commencement of the apprenticeship.
SafeWorkers - 29-Jun-17 @ 10:07 AM
I have just completed a probationary period at a job, however was not kept on. I am due my final wage from the company this month, despite being on a probationary period I am still entitled to me wage, is this correct?
AH1991 - 29-Jun-17 @ 2:41 AM
Hi I'm currently on an apprenticeship that's not for me and already past my probationary period, what is the law regarding me quiting by the way I live in the uk
Cracker - 27-Jun-17 @ 5:57 PM
I have been dismissed from a company who never gave me a signed contract, I found out my job was advertised a week before the MD dismissed me.. and now I need to wait until the end of the month to get paid, they are using the excuse of a RTI rule... anyone heard about that?
memyself - 15-Jun-17 @ 6:02 PM
I'm currently on a 3 month probationary period but have been offered a better position elsewhere. My contract states that I'm to give 1 months notice, but nothing specifies that this applies during probation. If I was to give 1 weeks written notice, could they do anything? I don't require a reference, do nothing to lose really. But I would like to start new job ASAP! Just want to know if there's any implications to doing this.
Kphill99 - 6-Jun-17 @ 10:31 AM
Hi, I just received my letter of employment from the company I’m due to start working at next month. I was not made aware of the fact that there would be a probation period but also that I would be earning less than what was stated on the job ad for that probation period. I have already worked out living costs on the salary stated on the job ad. The employer assures me that I will receive that salary after the probation period is over but I still don’t feel this is right as I was not made aware of it on the job ad or at the interview? Should I not be getting the salary stated on the job ad even during my probation period?
Holly - 18-May-17 @ 3:02 PM
Anna123 - Your Question:
Hi,I've just started a new job and two weeks in, I'm certain it's not for me.Within my contract it states that I can not work for a competitor for 6 months after termination of employment by either party. Does this still apply if I leave within the first month? My probation period is 6 months, does this still apply during my probation period?Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
After only two weeks' employment, it's unlikely that your employer would take action on this. All exclusivity clauses have to be deemed "reasonable" to be enforced, so the chances are a court would not uphold any action.
SafeWorkers - 5-May-17 @ 10:04 AM
Hi, I've just started a new job and two weeks in, I'm certain it's not for me. Within my contract it states that I can not work for a competitor for 6 months after termination of employment by either party. Does this still apply if I leave within the first month? My probation period is 6 months, does this still apply during my probation period? Thanks in advance.
Anna123 - 4-May-17 @ 9:04 AM
Fatsteph - Your Question:
Hi I had worked for a company A for 11 months and then applied and got a different job within the same company A. They said I am on 6 months probation which is nearly over. The problem I have is my manager at supervision has stated that she expected a lot more from me and is disappointed in my performance.she does know I am dyslexic and learn new things at a different pace but my fear is she sacks me at the end of my probation can she do this. Worried

Our Response:
It's a difficult one to answer. Were any performance plans and the consequences of not meeting them put in place? Existing employees can't be put on the same kind of probationary period as new starters.
SafeWorkers - 27-Apr-17 @ 12:50 PM
Hi I had worked for a companyA for 11 months and then applied and got a different job within the same company A. They said I am on 6 months probation which is nearly over. The problem I have is my manager at supervision has stated that she expected a lot more from me and is disappointed in my performance.she does know I am dyslexic and learn new things at a different pace but my fear is she sacks me at the end of my probation can she do this. Worried
Fatsteph - 26-Apr-17 @ 5:21 PM
Conor - Your Question:
I passed my 3 month probationary period, got welcomed into the company and then less than a month later was let go due to me being "not right for the company" can they do this?

Our Response:
If you had successfully passed your probationary period, your employer should havegone through the correct discplinary procedure in order to dismiss you. Check the employee handbook etc, to make sure this has been followed.
SafeWorkers - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:26 AM
I passed my 3 month probationary period, got welcomed into the company and then less than a month later was let go due to me being "not right for the company" can they do this?
Conor - 26-Mar-17 @ 10:38 PM
I was in probationary period for supposedly three months. I had started day one of my training that was for a month, however by the second day they sacked me saying I had gone against five pointers of the policies and procedures. One of them being I used my mobile phone to phone the dentist for an emergency appointment. I had asked if I could possible use the phone as I was in a lot of pain due to an infection. The employer said no I had to wait until break time which was at ten to three. Knowing it was hard to get an appointment for the dentist I phoned them on the side to get seen to later that day. I feel although I had gone against the rules there should of been a chat about the things they were concerned of and perhaps a written warning not the sack.
Jo - 3-Mar-17 @ 4:11 PM
Julie - Your Question:
QuestionI was employed by a very large corporate company for a very senior role managing a large team and they decided after 3 days that I was not right for the company! They had some petty excuses why I should leave such as being late in tube strike etc but not based on any real foundation or work I had done as had not even got started. I feel this is unfair, but is this illegal? The contract was 6 months probation but surely a company needs to give a good enough reason why they are letting you go so soon or give someone reasonable chance to start the job in hand?

Our Response:
Unfortunately there are no real laws to protect you in this situation. Clearly the employer decided you were not suitable for the role or the company. You haven't given us details of the reasons they gave apart from one, so it's difficult to comment.
SafeWorkers - 27-Feb-17 @ 10:45 AM
Question I was employed by a very large corporate company for a very senior role managing a large team and they decided after 3 days that I was not right for the company! They had some petty excuses why I should leave such as being late in tube strike etc but not based on any real foundation or work I had done as had not even got started. I feel this is unfair, but is this illegal? The contract was 6 months probation but surely a company needs to give a good enough reason why they are letting you go so soon or give someone reasonable chance to start the job in hand?
Julie - 24-Feb-17 @ 12:45 PM
Lizzie - Your Question:
Hello I started working for a company on the 1st of August and my probation period was for 6 months with means it ended on the 1st of February. My manager, HR manager and I were in yesterday the 1st of February, when my probation was due to finish, and they didn't say anything to me. So today 2nd of February they told me they want to extend my probationary period for 3 more months. Is that legal? My contract says that my employment is not confirmed until I get it on writing however they have not bothered to say anything to me until a day after my probation period has ended. Can they do that? Thank you for your help in advance

Our Response:
In general, once a probation period has ended and you have not heard from your employer, you can assume you have passed it successfully. However, in this instance, it could be argued that the 6 month period ended on 2nd depending on calendar/number of days etc. Make sure your employer has given you a good reason for the extension and that you have a set of measurable targets or objectives that you know you must meet.
SafeWorkers - 6-Feb-17 @ 10:35 AM
Hello I started working for a company on the 1st of August and my probation period was for 6 months with means it ended on the 1st of February. My manager, HR manager and I were in yesterday the 1st of February, when my probation was due to finish, and they didn't say anything to me. So today 2nd of February they told me they want to extend my probationary period for 3 more months. Is that legal? My contract says that my employment is not confirmed until I get it on writing however they have not bothered to say anything to me until a day after my probation period has ended. Can they do that? Thank you for your help in advance
Lizzie - 3-Feb-17 @ 1:13 AM
I applied for a job and got it they said my job would be full time 40hours a week probation for the first three months they sent me my contact which states full time 40 hours a week but now they want to drop my hours to 16 hours without asking me but I'm worried they will say I haven't passed my probation period if I I'm not happy with these reductions in hours is this legal
Tracey - 2-Feb-17 @ 3:44 AM
I have a slightly different issue regarding probation periods. I joined a new company and in my contract it stated there was 6 month probation during which the notice period for either side was 1 month.it them states that after successful completion of probation the notice period was extended to 3 months. I have been with the company 9 months. I now wish to leave. I have never been formally told that I have successfully passed my probation, in fact I have not had a 6 month review. Am I contractually liable to give 3 months notice or am I technically still on probation until I am told otherwise?
Jnm - 13-Jan-17 @ 7:28 PM
I been working for 3 months in a pub the extended my provetion period for other 3 months i want to quit because of the bad paid that you get by doing so much work, can i just say that in quiting or i have to write a letter or something? I need a bit of help here Thank you
Tatilisseth - 27-Dec-16 @ 6:40 PM
I used to work in agency for 5 months then I was employed directly within a company. My employment contract says a probation period from 3 to 6 months. I am doing the samejob as I did in agency. Well, I would like to know, would it be fair if company will decide to terminate my employmentas unsuccesfull probation period?
etrask - 9-Dec-16 @ 10:22 PM
Snoop2009 - Your Question:
I worked in a care home with a 3 month probation and at the end of it they gave me a letter that was not dated saying I had a meeting, I then got to the meeting and they talked but wouldn't let me talk. They then gave me another letter that was not dated saying I was to leave. Are they allowed to give you important letters to you with no date?

Our Response:
The lack of date will not be too important as long it's clear when your notice period starts and ends.
SafeWorkers - 3-Nov-16 @ 10:45 AM
I worked in a care home with a 3 month probation and at the end of it they gave me a letter that was not dated saying I had a meeting, I then got to the meeting and they talked but wouldn't let me talk. They then gave me another letter that was not dated saying I was to leave. Are they allowed to give you important letters to you with no date?
Snoop2009 - 2-Nov-16 @ 4:15 PM
chip - Your Question:
I have just been employed from a recruitment agency to a very prestigious company after taking the plunge of leaving my job of 24 years as a cnc miller. I was at the top of my game and a training coordinator. Just wanted a new challenge. The problem is my contract says.Working Hours:Initially you will be required to complete training on the 39 Hour Day Shift; 07.00 to 16.00 Monday to Thursday with a 10 minute paid break at 10:00 and 30 minute unpaid break at 13:00, and Fridays from 07:00 to 12:00 with a 10 minute paid break at 10:00. Please note there will be no shift allowance applicable when working the 39 Hour Day Shift. As explained once the Business has identified sufficient resource to work the Weekend Night Shift pattern and training is complete you will be required to work 36 hours working the 12 Hour Night Weekend Shift; 19.00 to 07.00 Friday to Sunday with two paid 20 minute breaks at 22.00 and 02.00. The shift allowance applicable when working the 12 Hour Weekend. However I did not receive adequate training and the company breached health and safety regs to get the night shift up and running. After 1 and a half weeks of "training " a week on first aid course then a fire Marshall course. I was put on nights I told them prior about my training and there was things I was not up to speed with and I was told I would have 2 other guys on nights who can help me. After one month of nights and me constantly pointing out to everyone my weaknesses I was taken off nights and put on to days for more training but there has never been any one on one training just left to my own devices. And only being told after the event goes wrong. I feel now that the company are weeding me out not through my incompetence but through there's for not offering me the correct one on one training that I was promised in my contract. I was originally put with an apprentice to be trained. Help please.

Our Response:
If you feel the company is in breach of contract in not providing you with the training they promised then you can take further action. Firstly talk to your employer to see whether they can provide the correct training before engaging you in a proper role, if that does not happen you will then have to take it to a tribunal. You'll be expected to contact ACAS before doing this.
SafeWorkers - 10-Oct-16 @ 2:43 PM
I have just been employed from a recruitment agency to a very prestigious company after taking the plunge of leaving my job of 24 years as a cnc miller. I was at the top of my game and a training coordinator. Just wanted a new challenge. The problem is my contract says. Working Hours: Initially you will be required to complete training on the 39 Hour Day Shift; 07.00 to 16.00 Monday to Thursday with a 10 minute paid break at 10:00 and 30 minute unpaid break at 13:00, and Fridays from 07:00 to 12:00 with a 10 minute paid break at 10:00. Please note there will be no shift allowance applicable when working the 39 Hour Day Shift. As explained once the Business has identified sufficient resource to work the Weekend Night Shift pattern and training is complete you will be required to work 36 hours working the 12 Hour Night Weekend Shift; 19.00 to 07.00 Friday to Sunday with two paid 20 minute breaks at 22.00 and 02.00. The shift allowance applicable when working the 12 Hour Weekend. However I did not receive adequate training and the company breached health and safety regs to get the night shift up and running. After 1 and a half weeks of "training " a week on first aid course then a fire Marshall course. I was put on nights I told them prior about my training and there was things I was not up to speed with and I was told I would have 2 other guys on nights who can help me. After one month of nights and me constantly pointing out to everyone my weaknesses I was taken off nights and put on to days for more training but there has never been any one on one training just left to my own devices. And only being told after the event goes wrong. I feel now that the company are weeding me out not through my incompetence but through there's for not offering me the correct one on one training that I was promised in my contract. I was originally put with an apprentice to be trained. Help please.
chip - 9-Oct-16 @ 11:27 AM
Working 4 months into 6m probation period with 1 month notice from employer but I have to give 3 months to employer to leave per contract. On the assumption that I wish to leave (potentially prior to probation not being extended) - If I give my notice and am prepared to work the 3 months then am I entitled to do this (or negotiate Pay in Lieu) ?
Filly - 22-Sep-16 @ 12:50 PM
Truly - Your Question:
I have worked for a company for one week and half, in fact actually training only really, I'm obviously in my probation all period, my contract states 1 week notice. I have two shifts in my 1 weeks notice, nobody has communicated with me after giving in my notice.Will I be expected to complete those shifts, as I really don't want to return.

Our Response:
Unless you hear otherwise from your employer, yes you will be expected to work your notice period.
SafeWorkers - 21-Sep-16 @ 11:23 AM
I have worked for a company for one week and half, in fact actually training only really, I'm obviously in my probation all period, my contract states 1 week notice. I have two shifts in my 1 weeks notice, nobody has communicated with me after giving in my notice. Will I be expected to complete those shifts, as I really don't want to return.
Truly - 19-Sep-16 @ 11:42 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Jay
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    I have worked for this company for 3 years I'm contracted to do 25 hours per week and I have offered a couple of hours at weekends to…
    22 August 2017
  • Mr A.Davies
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    I am on an 18 hour contract starting at eight until twelve each day .I have been informed my hours dont…
    22 August 2017
  • Williamk
    Re: Understanding Your Employment Contract
    My husband is contracted for 20 hours per week ( stated in his contract) his employer is now saying that's 80 hours…
    22 August 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    Chef Vic - Your Question:What exactly uk law says about consuming food in industrial food preparation areas? (Eating in restaurants…
    22 August 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Age Discrimination at Work
    Marie - Your Question:I have worked for a small charity,25-50 employees for 13 years, always as one of two people in my section, the…
    22 August 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Understanding Your Employment Contract
    Becca - Your Question:I'm on a 6 hour contract, and have no specific days, although I've opted to work my 6 hours on…
    22 August 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: What if Work Makes You Ill?
    Worriedworker - Your Question:Hi I hope someone can help me. I work in a store cafe and we have had no air conditioning for the…
    22 August 2017
  • Justice
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I hurt my back was in servere pain so I rang in sick and advised my manager. I was asked if I was going to the doctor to get some stronger…
    22 August 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    GG - Your Question:Hi I've worked the same night shift every Thursday and Saturday for over a year.…
    22 August 2017
  • Swifty
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I've been signed off sick for past 2 weeks due to car crash and back problems. Been in regular contact with my place of work during this…
    21 August 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeWorkers website. Please read our Disclaimer.