Sacked During Probation Period – What Can Happen & How to Cope if You Get Fired

It’s common to worry about being sacked during a probation period. A work trial can be an anxious time, and worries around making mistakes can lead to fears of losing your job.

Our guide looks at your employment rights if you get fired during your probation period. We’ll look at what usually happens, and what to do afterwards to pick yourself up and get back out there.


Can You Sack Someone on Probation?

You can be sacked during your probationary period at work. The purpose of probation is to let the employer see how you perform and if the role is a good fit.

If you are fired during your probation, it should not come out of the blue. Your employer should be conducting regular performance reviews. These should identify any weak areas and offer support to improve.


Reasons to be Fired During Probation

It’s very uncommon to be sacked for no reason during probation. There are usually reasons why your employer feels you are not the right fit for the job.

Common reasons to be sacked include:-

  • Poor performance.
  • Not fitting in with the rest of the team.
  • Disciplinary issues such as bad behaviour or poor attitude.
  • Timekeeping issues.
  • Excessive or unauthorised absences.

A good employer will discuss any performance issues with you, and you should be given opportunity to improve. If your employer fires you out of the blue without giving you a chance to improve, it is a sign of a poor culture within the business.

Whilst it’s little consolation, it would be better to avoid a long term career with a company prepared to treat staff in this way.

Bright HR outlines best practise for dismissing employees during probation.


Can You Be Sacked For Calling in Sick?

Being sacked for time off sick is a common cause of anxiety. Being unwell and needing time to recover can happen at any time. If you need to take time off sick during probation, try not to worry.

If you ensure you follow the company procedure, understand how to call in sick professionally, and communicate effectively with your manager it shouldn’t be a big issue. The most likely outcome of needing to call in unwell, would be an extension to your probation period.

Any extension would likely be for the same number of days you had off work sick. Remember, that if you conduct yourself to the letter of the company sick policy during an absence, it will let your manager see you know how to follow procedure.

If you were to be sacked during probation for sickness related to a disability, this could be unfair dismissal.


Unfair Dismissal

Although employees don’t have the same protections against unfair dismissal during the first two years of employment, you can still be unfairly dismissed during probation.

Some reasons for dismissal are automatically unfair and might mean you could claim compensation at an employment tribunal.

You can be unfairly sacked during probation on grounds of:-

  • Religion.
  • Sex.
  • Gender – after reassignment surgery.
  • Sexuality.
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave related absence.
  • Disability.
  • Age.
  • Marital Status.

A very common concern is worry about being sacked for being pregnant during probation.  Trial periods at work can be as long as 6 months, and a lot can happen in that time. You are protected from dismissal on pregnancy grounds from day one of your employment.


Can I be Sacked After Probation Ends?

You can still be sacked after the end of your probation period. However, after you have passed probation you will usually have the right to a longer notice period.

You do not have full protection from unfair dismissal until you have been with your employer for more than 2 years. Unfair dismissal is classed as being fired without your employer following proper procedures.

A good employer will always follow proper procedure when dismissing staff. This means that being fired should never come as a complete surprise.


Getting Fired on Probation – Your Rights

If you are sacked during probation, you still have employment rights. After more than a month of employment, you are entitled to a notice period.

If you have accrued holiday pay, this should be included in your final wage.


Notice Periods

First of all, check your contract of employment to see what your rights to a notice period are. If you have no contract, or notice is not mentioned, you have the right to statutory notice.

If you’ve been employed for less than a month, unfortunately you have no right to notice. This means you can be dismissed with immediate effect.

After a month of employment and up until two years, statutory notice is at least one week. If your employer does not wish you to work your notice period, you must be paid for it in your final wage packet.


Holiday Pay

You start to accrue holiday pay from day 1 of your employment. If you are dismissed, your employer will have to pay you for any outstanding holiday entitlement in your final wage.

Check your employment contract to see what company holiday pay you are entitled to. If there’s nothing in your contract, you will be entitled to statutory holiday pay. Do note that even if your contract says  you aren’t entitled to holiday pay in your probation period, your employer must still pay you for holidays.

For more on holiday pay entitlements see the ACAS website.


What To Do Next If You’ve Been Sacked on Probation

If you’ve been sacked during probation, you’ll understandably be feeling upset and wondering what to do next.

First of all, give yourself a break. Failing probation is not uncommon. Studies suggest up to 20% of employees are let go. This is not a reflection on your overall abilities, and it need not affect your employability in future if you approach it positively.

Here’s our top 3 things to do after failing probation:-

  • Take some time to understand why you failed. If there was a reason for dismissal that was a genuine personal weakness, it will benefit you to address it before seeking your next job.
  • Reach out to your old employer and ask about references. This is something you’re probably worried about. So just ask them what your reference will say, as this will help you prepare for interviews and landing your next job.
  • Decide how you’re going to explain your reasons for leaving your job to a new employer. This question is very likely to come up at interview, and if you deal with it smoothly it needn’t be a huge issue. Understanding what your reference from your old employer will say is a big part of this.

Ultimately, being sacked can feel like a huge failure. Try not to take it personally, there are other roles out there that will suit your abilities. The quicker you can dust yourself off and update your CV, the better.


FAQs

Can you be fired for being pregnant while on probation?

Being fired for being pregnant during probation would be an automatically unfair reason for dismissal. You have maternity rights from day one of your employment, even if you were already pregnant when your job began.

Can you be fired for being sick on probation?

You could be fired for excessive absences during your probation period, however the more likely outcome is that your employer would extend your probation period. Most workplaces will extend probation by the same number of sick days you took off. This allows them adequate time to assess your performance.

Can you be fired without warning on probation?

It’s good practise to follow a dismissal procedure, and give employees a warning before firing them. However, employers are under no legal obligation to warn you before dismissal during probation.

Does failing probation mean I was sacked?

If you failed your probation period, then the next step your employer will usually take is dismissal. Some workplaces may allow you to appeal a probation failure, however they’re not under any obligation to do so.

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