POSTED: July 22 2019


advo HR looks at the purpose of probationary periods, their effectiveness and the importance of following the probationary process to reduce the risk to the business.

Probationary periods can be great in practice to give both the employer and employee the opportunity to decide whether the arrangement is working out, however, unless the employer uses the probationary period effectively by reviewing and appraising the employee’s performance regularly, ensuring that the required standards of performance and conduct are being reached, follows the appropriate probation process and keeps track of when it ends, it may be at risk of implying that an employee has successfully completed their probation even if they have not formally confirmed this in writing at the end of the period.

Rights during probationary period are mainly determined via the contract of employment.

There may be circumstances which result in the need for an extension to a probationary period or where the employee’s performance is not satisfactory and you wish to dismiss them. In those instances, by not following the correct process the Company could be putting themselves in a precarious position.

It is important to keep track of the probationary period and monitor the employee’s performance regularly, informing them of any issues or areas where improvement is required, giving them an opportunity to try and improve is best practice.

If the manager or the employee have been absent over a significant period of the probationary period, there may have been mitigating circumstances, which make it difficult to assess the employee’s performance or the manager requires more time to assess the employee for one reason or another, it may be appropriate to extend the probationary period, inform the employee they are doing so and the reasons for this. At the end of the probationary period/extension there should be a final review meeting, which determines the outcome. Records should be kept.

It is common for Companies to stipulate a probationary period for new employees, particularly those at junior or mid-level, and periods of three- or six-months’ probation are the most common. The Company does not necessarily need to wait until the end of a probationary period before dismissing an unsatisfactory employee – the employee can be dismissed during the probationary period. You should ensure that you follow any applicable contractual disciplinary procedure prior to the dismissal. (Usually if you are an advo hr client and you have our version contract of employment template there is a clause which allows you to dispense of the disciplinary process when the employee is on their probationary period. But you should check an individual’s contract before doing so, so you don’t risk a breach of contract.) The Company must give the required period of contractual or statutory notice, whichever is the greater.

If you want to know more email Carly Gregory on