Probationary period

09 July 2019

When you plan to hire staff, the most important things to look for is talent and capability. To determine whether your new starter is up to the role, employers can offer a probational period.

This timeframe allows the employee to settle and showcase their skills. And it also lets you to assess their suitability into your advertised role.

But there are rights and regulations you must follow, even this early on in their career. Without complying to them, your probation period could consequently cause unlawful discrimination and potentially unfair dismissal.

We’ll discover what a probation period is; and how to manage work probation period rights and procedures within your business.

What is a probation period?

A probationary period is used to see if an employee is suitable for a position.

They’re normally used at the start of a job when a new employee is hired. And also, when an existing employee is given a new internal role.

During this trial employment period, employees may be exempt from certain contractual terms – but ultimately, you’re reviewing their performance and capability levels.

The length of a probational period is entirely your decision. But they generally last between one, three, or six months.

How is a job probation period beneficial?

Probationary periods help employers determine if they’ve hired the right candidate for their business. But they’re also beneficial for employees too.

The trial period allows them to express an eagerness for the job; and start their tasks and responsibilities without too much strain.

What are employment rights during a probation period?

There is no specific probation at work rights outlined in employment law. However, under the Statement of main terms and conditions, probations are legally binding if they’re included in contracts.

Employees on probation have the same rights as those who have passed their probation and are still in their first two years of service.

These rights include:

However, some employers choose to apply non-statutory benefits (like enhanced sick pay) after passing probation.

It’s important to follow the Equality Act (2010) for employee probation period rights. All employees are protected against unlawful discrimination and dismissal.

If you’re accused of workplace discrimination or unfair dismissal, you could face hefty compensation fees and grueling tribunal hearings.

Can you dismiss an employee during a probation period?

New employees can be dismissed during a probationary period. You might decide the new employee is not working out or are a poor job fit.

If you aren’t satisfied with their performance, you can either extend their period further or dismiss them.

But if you decide on dismissal, present your reasons for why they are unsuitable and how they could potentially improve. Remember, employees can appeal your decision if they believe it’s unlawful and raise it to legal courts.

Can you dismiss an employee on a probationary period for internal promotion?

Existing employees can be face redundancy during a probation period for an internal transfer.

Depending on their length of service, you must follow the appropriate redundancy procedure. Explain the reasons why they aren’t suitable before actioning dismissal.

Do you have to give notice period during probations?

There is no legal obligation for providing probation period notice to new or existing employees. Remember, you do still need to provide statutory notice; but nothing more or less when it comes to probations.

During probation periods, notice periods can be actioned if they’re legally agreed to within employment contracts.

You should specify how much notice to give during probation period, and potential notice pay. And it shouldn’t be less than the statutory notice period of one week following one month of employment.

Do you have to work your notice in a probation period?

An employee doesn’t have to work their notice during a probation if it’s not legally agreed to.

Some employees might not have this set out in their employment contracts. Here, if they decide to leave, they must provide the statutory notice period - while on probation. This notice is generally one week; after this, they may end their employment.

What do you include in a probation period procedure?

You can present your employment probation period rules through employment contracts and handbooks.

Provide the employee with details on the nature of the job role and responsibilities required. And include information on:

  • How long the probation period will be.
  • How tasks and responsibilities will be outlined.
  • Rules on notice periods.
  • Rights to extend the probation period.
  • How the final verdict will be presented.

Once the probation period is over, you should hold a review meeting. The aim of the meeting is to showcase whether to develop the employee further, or to let them go.

Discuss whether the employee has met your performance targets. Or whether they have been unsatisfactory and could face with further training, a probation period extension, or dismissal.

Can you take holiday during probation period?

When an employee begins their job placement, they automatically start to accrue holidays. This means annual leave during probation period is legally allowed.

Before you hire an employee, it’s common business practice to ask if they have any holidays already booked. However, you are not legally obliged to honour those dates, especially if you aren’t able to.

Holiday entitlement during probation period is the same as new starters. They are entitled to 1/12th of leave during their first month of employment. So, if an employee wants to take leave during their initial weeks, they may need to wait until they’ve accrued enough leave days.

Get expert guidance on probation periods with Peninsula

Whether you’re dealing with new starters or promoted employees, always offer probation periods.

You’ll be able to determine if you’ve selected the right candidate for the job. And allow a safe space for employees to showcase their abilities and skillset for the role.

Investing in your staff will enhance their career prospects, and in return, your business success.

Without it, you could end up hiring unsuitable employees, and may have to face long journeys for demotions and dismissals. And if you don’t handle this with care, you risk impacts to your business name, revenue, and production.

Peninsula offers expert guidance on all matters of probations and onboarding management. Our clients get access to 24-hour HR advice who will ensure your probation procedures follow the law.

Get in touch today; or use our callback form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that is convenient for you.

Call us on 0800 028 2420.

Terms and Conditions.

Suggested Resources