Home > Employment Law > Employment Probation Periods: What You Need to Know

Employment Probation Periods: What You Need to Know

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 9 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Probationary Period Employer Dismissal

A probation period is a trial period of employment. The employee is employed subject to satisfactory completion of this trial period.

Why have a probationary period?

Employers will often carry out an application and interview process. However you can't always tell from an interview how an employee will do in a job in practice, or whether they will fit in with an existing team. Employers therefore have a "trial period".

A probation period will commonly be 3 to 6 months, though they can be as little as 1 week in short-term contracts. The duration of any probation period must not be unreasonable. Performance reviews are common during this period, as they give both the employee and employer an opportunity to discuss any concerns and address these (for example with additional targeted training). Regular formal reviews are not however compulsory.

Reader's Question:

"I was employed on a maternity contract for a maximum period of 12 months, the lady whose post I was covering decided not to return to work and I was confirmed in the post on a permanent basis 1 month prior to the expected end of my maternity cover contract.

I have received my new contract and have been asked to enter into another probationary period. I am unsure if I should agree to this as I have already successfully completed a probationary period as set out in the terms of my previous fixed term contract."

If you do not think that a probationary period is necessary, speak to your employer. It may be that you have simply been given a standard contract. A probationary period gives you less security, but if you already perform the role well, you should pass with flying colours!

Rights during probation

Your statutory rights during employment start on the first day of employment, regardless of any probation period. However your contract may give you less favourable terms during a probationary period than after the period has finished. For example:
  • A shorter notice period (for both you and your employer)
  • No entitlement to free private medical care
  • No entitlement to death in service benefit

Any less favourable terms must not infringe your general statutory employment rights which include:

  • Right to be paid minimum wage
  • Right to holiday pay
  • Right to itemised pay statement
  • Applicability of the working time directive

Readers' Question:

"If an employer gives you a 6 month probation and then after 9 months you have still not had your 6 month probation review does that mean you have passed it or not?"

If you are not told during your probation period that it is to be extended or that you have failed your probation, you are deemed to have passed.

"I'm 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 only give one month's notice?"

You must also abide by the relevant contractual terms, even during your probation period. If you do not, your employer could claim damages if they lose work or have to pay other employees a higher rate of overtime to cover work during a period that you should have been working. Any such claims are rare however.

Extending your probation period

If your employer has stated that they want to extend your probation period, check your employment contract. This should state under what circumstances your probationary period can be extended, and for how long. Your employer can only extend your probation period if your employment contract says that they can extend it in the particular cited circumstances (e.g to have more time to assess your performance).

Reader's Question:

"I'm 7 weeks into my 13 week trial period at work and am going out on sick leave. Can my new employer let me go after my 13 weeks if I'm still out on sick leave?"

This is a scenario in which an extension of your probation period is likely, as your employer has not yet had chance to fully assess your performance in the role.

Your employer cannot extend your probationary period for "protected reasons". These include:

  • Your ethnicity, religion or cultural background
  • Your gender, age or marital status

If your contract does not allow your employer to extend your probation period, they may wish to change the contract. You do not have to agree to change your contract. If you think that the proposed changes are unfair or less favourable to you, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau for free advice about your options. (Find your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau office, including those that give advice by email, at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice).

Dismissed during probation

Just because you were in your probation period does not automatically make your dismissal fair. The usual test still applies: Did your employer act reasonably in all the circumstances?

Your employer has a duty to take reasonable steps to assist employees such as giving them adequate training to enable them to carry out their job. If you are dismissed on the basis of your performance, you would normally expect a reasonable employer to have discussed your performance with you on a prior occasion and given you the opportunity to try and do better.

You cannot claim for unfair dismissal during your probationary period as you will not have worked the relevant qualifying employment period. However you can still claim for:

  • Harassment
  • Dismissal due to "whistle-blowing"
  • Dismissal due to a "protected reason"/discrimination

Reader's Question

"I've started a new job on 3 months probation period, which is almost over (1 week) and have found out I'm pregnant. I have told my boss the date I'd like to work up until before maternity leave. He said he's not going to extend it and wouldn't give me a reason why and said that he doesn't have to. Is this the correct way to treat an employee?"

Potentially, you could take your former employer to an Employment Tribunal and claim damages. However you will need to have evidence relating to why you were dismissed. (e.g The fact that you are of an ethnic minority and did not get on with your former employer will not be enough. If you can evidence that your former employer said something racially discriminatory, or that all other employees of a different ethnicity with the same review scores are being kept on, that would be more relevant evidence.)If you think that you have been unfairly dismissed during your probation period, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau about what you can do.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hello, I have just finished my three months probation. I asked my boss about my holiday entitlement and she told me I don't have any holidays until the start of the new year when everyone's annual holiday entitlement starts. The only holiday restriction is Christmas week. My contract even states if I start part way through the year,holidays are pro rata until the following year. I work 31 hours a week, five days a week. Thank you
Karn - 9-Dec-17 @ 10:02 AM
beth - Your Question:
I have been working at a new job for 2weeks.i fell over at work and hurt my arm the doctor said I have to take 2 weeks rest.will I be paid??will I be sacked??does it make a diffrence that im on 0 hours contract??

Our Response:
What kind of job is it? If you are on a zero hours contract and have "worker status" you are not entitled to sick pay.
SafeWorkers - 5-Dec-17 @ 11:40 AM
i have been working at a new job for 2weeks..i fell over at work and hurt my arm the doctor said i have to take 2 weeks rest...will i be paid??will i be sacked??does it make a diffrence that im on 0 hours contract??
beth - 2-Dec-17 @ 12:12 PM
Jill- Your Question:
I have been working for a charity for 3 months, my probation period is 6 months. My C. E.O. is my line manager and I work in the same office. I have had no training to do the job I was employed to do and my boss keeps changing the procedures on a daily basis. The work load is very large and he shouts if the smallest thing isn't done. Eg emptying the bin, or cleaning cups. Which isn't my role anyway. He's irrational and inconsistent. I don't feel I can work there anymore due to the stress. In my contract I am able to give one weeks notice. I have also recently found out that the company is losing money and can actually only afford one person's salary a year. We have 4 employees. So feel the business is failing anyway. Can I leave and give one weeks notice and take it as holiday. I just feel sick thinking about going in.

Our Response:
You can give one week's notice but can only take holiday that you are entitled to (work out how much leave you have accrued in the first 3 months). You can only take holiday in your notice period if your employer agrees to it rather than paying you for unused holidays in your final salary payment.
SafeWorkers - 1-Dec-17 @ 12:31 PM
I have been working for a charity for 3 months, my probation period is 6 months. My C. E.O. is my line manager and I work in the same office. I have had no training to do the job I was employed to do and my boss keeps changing the procedures on a daily basis. The work load is very large and he shouts if the smallest thing isn't done. Eg emptying the bin, or cleaning cups. Which isn't my role anyway. He's irrational and inconsistent. I don't feel I can work there anymore due to the stress. In my contract I am able to give one weeks notice. I have also recently found out that the company is losing money and can actually only afford one person's salary a year. We have 4 employees. So feel the business is failing anyway. Can I leave and give one weeks notice and take it as holiday. I just feel sick thinking about going in.
Jill - 29-Nov-17 @ 8:01 PM
LDI - Your Question:
Hi,I recently got a job contract with 6 months probation. It states that my notice period is 3 months, the employer's 6 months, except during probation, where the employer has to give 2 weeks notice. It didn't say anything about my notice period during probation, but when I asked I was told it's still 3 months from my side. Is this legal? It seems a bit odd to allow them a much short notice period but not alter mine during probation.This is especially tricky as I have another interview for a job I'd prefer, but won't know the outcome until after I'd have to sign the contract for the 1st job, so if I were to get the preferred job I'd have to give notice for the 1st before I'd even start and am unsure if the 3 months would still apply even though it's technically _before_ the probation period/start of the job.Could you please shed some light on this?Thanks for your advice.

Our Response:
Yes if notice periods are given in your contract, then they apply.If you choose not to work/give your full notice, then it is actually difficult for your employer to take action. Your employer would probably have to use the courts to prevent you working from another employer or to recover any costs arising as a result of you leaving early etc.
SafeWorkers - 27-Nov-17 @ 12:33 PM
My daughter has worked for a company since jan 2017, she was on 6 months probation which would have been up by August 2017 . She heard nothing and sent emails to her HR department asking for confirmation that she was out of probation . In September she found out she is pregnant , baby due May 2018. She was told yesterday November 24th that her probation period is being extended for three months because her new manger doesn’t know her , there has never been an issue with her work . Now she is concerned that in three months she going on maternity leave and her company will sack her due to her having her “ probation period extended three months after the six month period was up . My worry is that they will sack her so she will not receive her maternity pay .She has also asked for a work risk assessment to be completed and to reduce her hours slightly as she works 12 hour shifts but was told to “man up “ by her new manager , what are her rights please ?
Hez - 24-Nov-17 @ 1:51 PM
Hi, I recently got a job contract with 6 months probation. It states that my notice period is 3 months, the employer's 6 months, except during probation, where the employer has to give 2 weeks notice. It didn't say anything about my notice period during probation, but when I asked I was told it's still 3 months from my side. Is this legal? It seems a bit odd to allow them a much short notice period but not alter mine during probation. This is especially tricky as I have another interview for a job I'd prefer, but won't know the outcome until after I'd have to sign the contract for the 1st job, so if I were to get the preferred job I'd have to give notice for the 1st before I'd even start and am unsure if the 3 months would still apply even though it's technically _before_ the probation period/start of the job. Could you please shed some light on this? Thanks for your advice.
LDI - 23-Nov-17 @ 11:29 AM
Rc - Your Question:
My husband was employed by local supermarket on 20-30 hour a week contract. Induction day gave details of full and competent training to take place over 6-12weeks. The job opened up due to and old store being expanded and refitted. Training was at a different location. In reality the training was poorly executed causing him stress. The managers response was 'if you cannot learn these product codes there will be no job for you!" followed by further training paperwork that either had no codes or that did not match what had previously been received. During 1st 6 weeks a weeks annual leave was enforced too. Day 1 at new store shift was 1pm until store closed but it it undrstood by all staff that no-one goes until store is fully cleaned and tidied. That shift finished at 4am. Day 2 (very same day as 4am finish) shift started at 1pm and finished 3am. Minimum 30 minute break only during each shift. Day 3 phoned in sick and that evening hospitalised. Dehydration, lack of food, rest or regular medication have been identified by medical team. His manager has not responded to husbands request to call him two days ago.

Our Response:
You may need to contact a lawyer about this neglect of duty of care by the employer.
SafeWorkers - 21-Nov-17 @ 10:23 AM
My husband was employed by local supermarket on 20-30 hour a week contract. Induction day gave details of full and competent training to take place over 6-12weeks. The job opened up due to and old store being expanded and refitted. Training was at a different location. In reality the training was poorly executed causing him stress. The managers response was 'if you cannot learn these product codes there will be no job for you!" followed by further training paperwork that either had no codes or that did not match what had previously been received.During 1st 6 weeks a weeks annual leave was enforced too. Day 1 at new store shift was 1pm until store closed but it it undrstood by all staff that no-one goes until store is fully cleaned and tidied. That shift finished at 4am. Day 2 (very same day as 4am finish) shift started at 1pm and finished 3am. Minimum 30 minute break only during each shift. Day 3 phoned in sick and that evening hospitalised. Dehydration, lackof food, rest or regular medication have been identified by medical team. His manager has not responded to husbands request to call him two days ago.
Rc - 20-Nov-17 @ 4:11 AM
Bill - Your Question:
11 weeks into a 12 week probation period I was told that I was being let go of but that I should write a letter of resignation. Today I had a call from one of the shift supervisors during which he stated that I had to write the letter as he couldn't release my last wages (and presumably holiday pay) if I didn't. I have this conversation recorded. Where do I stand if my wages are not released as I have no intention of writing the letter as I have not resigned.

Our Response:
If you are being dismissed you don't have to writeresignation letter...your employer should really be writing to you to tell you, that you are dismissed. Check the employer's handbook for details of the dismissal procedure. If you don't receive wages that you are owed your employer is in breach of contract and you can take action. (ACAS can help)
SafeWorkers - 17-Nov-17 @ 3:26 PM
Taff - Your Question:
I started working for my company in June 2017 , In August 2017 I became a single parent of three kids. My worked suffered as I was having to take time off to deal with family problems which at the end of August I was put on probation for two months. I have constantly struggled with the pressure of doing the right thing at work and at home with no offers of help from my employer ! My probationary period should have finish at the end of October, But today on 15th of November I received a termination of employment via email ! Surely this cant be right ?

Our Response:
What does your employment contract say about giving notice. If you're not in work your employer has to contact you in some way, so email or letter would be expected. As you've only worked for the company for a few months you will not have a claim for unfair dismissal.
SafeWorkers - 17-Nov-17 @ 11:02 AM
11 weeks into a 12 week probation period I was told that I was being let go of but that I should write a letter of resignation. Today I had a call from one of the shift supervisors during which he stated that I had to write the letter as he couldn't release my last wages (and presumably holiday pay) if I didn't. I have this conversation recorded. Where do I stand if my wages are not released as I have no intention of writing the letter as I have not resigned.
Bill - 17-Nov-17 @ 12:38 AM
I started working for my company in June 2017 , In August 2017 I became a single parent of three kids. My worked suffered as I was having to take time off to deal with family problems which at the end of August I was put on probation for two months. I have constantly struggled with the pressure of doing the right thing at work and at home with no offers of help from my employer ! My probationary period should have finish at the end of October, But today on 15th of November I received a termination of employment via email ! Surely this cant be right ?
Taff - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:22 AM
Hello, i have completed my probation period for 5 months and now 6th month but few 2 months back i was changed department and current HOD told me that he is not going to confirm me and make me as permanent staff and ask me to resign but i told him i will not resign and do not agree. So my concern is what is't possible to happen once i complete 6 months of probation period? Can i be terminated immediately without any notice, there is chances to extend my probation period?
Nesh - 15-Nov-17 @ 3:58 AM
Lg - Your Question:
Hello.I had my probation period extended but dont know how long for.Now I can work 37 hours a week as a full rime but due to my 2 children I need change it to a less hours.can I do this? Thamk you

Our Response:
Your employer should say exactly how long your probationary period has been extended for, if they haven't, you should ask for it. Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible to request flexible working hours.
SafeWorkers - 14-Nov-17 @ 3:00 PM
Hello.I had my probation period extended but dont know how long for.Now I can work 37 hours a week as a full rime but due to my 2 children I need change it to a less hours....can I do this? Thamk you
Lg - 13-Nov-17 @ 7:06 AM
John - Your Question:
My probation period ended 2 days ago but I have not been told if I have passed it or not. If they wanted to let me go, would I have the probation period of notice (one week), or the post-probation period of notice (one month)? My contract doesn't specify. Does the employer have to tell me the result before the probation period finishes?

Our Response:
If your probation period is over and you have heard nothing from your employer, you can assume you have passed it successfully. If they decide to dismiss you once your probation period is over then your post-probation period applies (this will be detailed in your contract).
SafeWorkers - 10-Nov-17 @ 3:18 PM
Saurabh - Your Question:
I have completed probation period and don't want to continue shall I give notice period.

Our Response:
Yes, give whatever notice period is required in your contract.
SafeWorkers - 10-Nov-17 @ 12:00 PM
My probation period ended 2 days ago but I have not been told if I have passed it or not. If they wanted to let me go, would I have the probation period of notice (one week), or the post-probation period of notice (one month)? My contract doesn't specify. Does the employer have to tell me the result before the probation period finishes?
John - 9-Nov-17 @ 2:07 PM
I have completed probation period and don't want to continue shall I give notice period.
Saurabh - 8-Nov-17 @ 7:30 AM
I have been working in a hospital for around a year now and moved departments 2 months ago they put me on a 3 month probation period, I have always gone into work and been told I’m excellent at my job I have serious flu and possible hand foot and mouth so went to the doctors today tuesday (meant to be working tomorrow) and the doctor has given me a sick note for 7 days as working in a hospital is a no go for any illness really. I’ve been on contracted hours and my boss replied with a phone call meeting to say that my job was on the line because I can’t do more hours (I have a 1 year old boy) I do my set 3/4 days and can’t do more unfortunately due to child care! She said she is going to give me another chance because I’m good at my job but is any of that aloud? She has made me feel awful! She said it was late notice but I can’t help when I’m going to be poorly? Any advice would be great thanks in advance!
Js24 - 1-Nov-17 @ 6:40 PM
Unhappy and Snappy - Your Question:
I started a new job in the NHS with a probationary period and within 2 months I was signed off with depression due to personal reasons and situations within the workplace. The sickness period extended to 4 months. I submitted sick notes on a regular basis, I even undertook 6 weeks of counselling and attended occupational health meetings as part of my efforts to return to work. I was told by my GP not to contact the workplace on the outset as this could cause a delay in my recuperation. On my last doctors appointment I declared myself able to return to work where I advised my line manager by text and awaited their response. This was not forthcoming and 1 week later I received a letter requesting a meeting the following week which I have today attended. They have stated that I have 1 weeks notice due to lack of communication even though I attended occupational health meetings, submitted doctors certificates and also attended 6 weeks of counselling to help with my condition. Can my employer do this as I deem it very unfair and was happy to have a phased return should the employer choose accommodate my wishes and this was even discussed in an earlier meeting with HR and my line manager early in my sickness period. I am going to approach my union and also appeal the decision but wondered if I have grounds for an appeal.

Our Response:
You must submit a sick/fit note to your employer if you are absent for more than 7 days (by law). After that you should communicate with your employer as per their policy. Read you employee handbook for specific information on this.
SafeWorkers - 30-Oct-17 @ 11:47 AM
I started a new job in the NHS with a probationary period and within 2 months I was signed off with depression due to personal reasons and situations within the workplace. The sickness period extended to 4 months. I submitted sick notes on a regular basis, I even undertook 6 weeks of counselling and attended occupational health meetings as part of my efforts to return to work. I was told by my GP not to contact the workplace on the outset as this could cause a delay in my recuperation. On my last doctors appointment I declared myself able to return to work where I advised my line manager by text and awaited their response. This was not forthcoming and 1 week later I received a letter requesting a meeting the following week which I have today attended. They have stated that I have 1 weeks notice due to lack of communication even though I attended occupational health meetings, submitted doctors certificates and also attended 6 weeks of counselling to help with my condition. Can my employer do this as I deem it very unfair and was happy to have a phased return should the employer choose accommodate my wishes and this was even discussed in an earlier meeting with HR and my line manager early in my sickness period. I am going to approach my union and also appeal the decision but wondered if I have grounds for an appeal.
Unhappy and Snappy - 27-Oct-17 @ 11:26 AM
I have been in dubai for 3 months my probation period is for 3 months which i will complete today howsoever i am not satisfied with my employer as they are not paying on time in 3 months i have received only 1 month salary so if i want to switch job will there be any problem.
Sanket mehra - 25-Oct-17 @ 10:42 AM
I am just about to finish my 3 months probation period. Most likely I will pass the probation, however I don't feel like I want to stay in this job. I have earned 9 paid days of holiday which I was going to take end of November( if I stay in a job) my employer approved my holiday already but willI get paid for the 9 days if I leave after fininfing my probation? Thank you
Lucy - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:13 PM
Hi I have worked one day after signing a contract with 6 months probation.after finishing my first day at work due to some issues I have found there I then later in the evening left a voice mail and an email saying is not working out for me I'm not coming back. Can I be in troubles for it and will I get paid for the day I done? Thank you
Lc - 24-Oct-17 @ 1:45 PM
pdd - Your Question:
Hi, I started working in a place 3rd of this month, and I left the 16th without giving notice because of an argument with the manager. Today I went there in a peaceful way asking when I am going to get paid, to what I was responded that I may not get paid since I left without notice and I signed a contract that says that I need to give 2 weeks of notice.But since I have 2 months of probation, and in the first month I have heard that there is no need of any of the parties to give any notice to rescind the contract, is it legal for them not to pay me for the hours I have worked there? And, if they refuse to pay me, which is the way I should proceed to take it legal and get paid? Thank you!

Our Response:
Your notice period is that stated in your contract (two weeks). Since you left without serving your notice, your employer can deduct two weeks' from your final payment, but you should be paid for any other work, you haven't already received pay for.
SafeWorkers - 23-Oct-17 @ 10:01 AM
Hi, I started working in a place 3rd of this month, and I left the 16th without giving notice because of an argument with the manager. Today I went there in a peaceful way asking when I am going to get paid, to what I was responded that I may not get paid since I left without notice and I signed a contract that says that I need to give 2 weeks of notice. But since I have 2 months of probation, and in the first month I have heard that there is no need of any of the parties to give any notice to rescind the contract, is it legal for them not to pay me for the hours I have worked there? And, if they refuse to pay me, which is the way I should proceed to take it legal and get paid? Thank you!
pdd - 19-Oct-17 @ 1:32 AM
I have been at the job for nearly 6 month and have have been pretty much told that its unlikely that I will pass my probation... But wanted to know if i am entitled to holiday pay? I work term time and my pay was pro-rota.
Sunny - 15-Oct-17 @ 8:05 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
  • none
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    Hi,ive been off15 times with different reasons,asked for them as hollidays to which work said yes. I then came to work only to be given…
    10 December 2017
  • Shaz
    Re: Working At Night
    Myself a team leader and my staff support workers all working nights 8pm to 8am in a Supported Living environment. We have illicit substance…
    10 December 2017
  • Jam
    Re: Understanding Your Employment Contract
    Daughter just turned 18 has worked for kfc for a year signed paper work but has never been given a contract turned…
    9 December 2017
  • Karn
    Re: Employment Probation Periods: What You Need to Know
    Hello, I have just finished my three months probation. I asked my boss about my holiday entitlement…
    9 December 2017
  • Alex
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    My girlfriend works at a pub and something her manager makes her work 2-3 hours after the hours she’s…
    8 December 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Probationary Period
    CindiB - Your Question:I started my current job and was working to a probation of 3 months. The three months passed on 22/11/17. On Monday…
    8 December 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    lisa - Your Question:Hi, my daughter has a 16 hrs contract at work, she has 2 children age 9&7, therefore…
    8 December 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    Tez - Your Question:Sorry I was contracted to 25 hours but always did 31 then I get no notice at all and just told not to come back. I…
    8 December 2017
  • kat
    Re: When to Quit Your Job
    Your doctor can help. See what he/she has written on your certificate of capacity. If he/she says you have no capacity for work DON'T GO
    8 December 2017
  • lisa
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    Hi, my daughter has a 16 hrs contract at work, she has 2 children age 9&7, therefore claim child tax…
    7 December 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.