Probationary Periods

male and female in probationary periods review

Probationary Period

Home Services Probationary Period

male and female in probationary periods review

Probationary Period

It is important that the new employee understands what is expected of them during their probationary period from the beginning of their employment, therefore the manager should discuss the following with them within their first week:

  • What the employee is expected to achieve in their job during the probationary period and thereafter.
  • Details of the core values of the organisation and behaviours expected of the employee.
  • The standards of regular attendance expected from the employee.
  • Any development required to help the employee to do their job.
  • How any problems with performance will be addressed.
  • When the probationary period review meetings will take place.

The manager should also set out details of structured training, guidance, and supervisory support the new employee can expect to help them achieve the required standards.  The manager should explain the mechanism for identifying and discussing any problem areas at the earliest opportunity, together with the provision of regular constructive two-way feedback.

During the probationary period a series of formal probationary review meetings should take place between the new employee and their manager to discuss:

  • areas of strength
  • areas where improvement is necessary 
  • any training required to enable the employee to improve 
  • whether or not the employee is achieving the expected standard 
  • Warn the employee that if this standard is not reached it will be necessary to terminate his/her employment.

The manager should always keep full, clear records and documentation of probationary period meetings throughout the probationary process.

If the employee is experiencing problems at any stage during his/her probationary period, the manager should discuss these with the employee and not wait until the next scheduled probationary period review meeting. The primary purpose is to bring about a sustained improvement in performance and to ensure that the employee has had sufficient opportunities to achieve this. 

Dismissal following a probationary period  

If the expected performance standard is not being achieved by the employee, even after significant opportunities have been given alongside a development plan, the company may decide to consider the possibility of terminating the contract due to unsatisfactory progress/behaviour during the probationary period

Most policies or contracts of employment state the full disciplinary procedure is not usually considered appropriate for employees working within the probationary period, and whilst an employee cannot claim unfair dismissal in the first year of service. If you dismiss someone without going through a fair dismissal process an employee can claim wrongful dismissal, for which there is no length of service requirement.

Download your FREE guide on how to manage a dismissal during probationary periods.

For example; if the individual has a protected characteristic such as being disabled then there is a potential risk that they could make a claim regarding discrimination in the workplace.

As such the following procedure should be followed:

  1. Write to the employee to invite them into a probationary period review meeting, outlining the issues and advising that termination is being considered.
  2. Give the employee the right to be accompanied by a colleague or an accredited trade union representative.
  3. At the meeting give the employee the opportunity to respond to the issues put forward.
  4. Make a decision on the outcome, i.e. terminate the contract or extend the probationary period (assuming the contract of employment allows for this). 
  5. Notify the employee of the outcome of the probationary period review in writing. 
  6. If the decision was to terminate the contract, offer the employee the right to appeal within five working days. 

Probationary period reviews should be handled consistently by all managers, and therefore it is recommended that all managers should receive training on how to manage probation for new employees.  Furthermore, the probationary period should be stated in the employment terms and conditions.

What is a Probationary period?

A probationary period is a clause for new employees joining a company, helping both the employee and employer asset if they fit the role correctly.

During the probationary period, employees can be excused from some contractual rights, such as company or employee benefits. Some workplaces require employees to pass their probationary periods before agreeing to hybrid work arrangements.

Recruitment campaigns can be highly time-consuming and costly for businesses, and utilising probationary periods to benefit the business is critical.

There are 3 key aims for probationary periods to establish;

  1. If the new employee is a good fit for the role including their performance, skills, and overall conduct in the workplace
  2. How well the new employee works with team members
  3. How the new employee fits within the company

Probationary period reviews give companies a clear framework for assessing the capabilities, reliability, and, suitability of the new employee, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that a probationary period will increase the probability that new employees will succeed in their new roles. 

The rights of employees during their probationary period (employment law during the probationary period)

Whilst new employees do not have rights against company-specific benefits, some laws are day-one rights and must be followed according to employment law, including;

  • At least the national minimum wage or living wage
  • Itemised pay slips
  • Paid holiday entitlement – beginning from day one
  • Maximum working hours and minimum breaks
  • Maternity leave
  • Time off for ante-natal appointments

Extending an employee’s probationary period

Businesses have the right to extend the probationary period, as long as they provide valid and fair reasons for doing so. If you are considering extending a probationary period, speak with our HR consultants who will be able to assist you with the correct process for extending the probationary period and the necessary communication needed between you and the employee.

Why have a Probationary Period?

The purpose of a probationary period is to allow a specific time period for the employee and employer to assess the suitability of the role after having first-hand experience. On the one hand, it gives the employer opportunity to assess objectively whether the new employee is suitable for the job taking into account their capability, skills, performance, attendance, and general conduct. 

On the other hand, it allows the new employee to see whether they like their new job and surroundings, which can’t be fully established during the recruitment process. 

How long is the probationary period?

There is no employment law determining the length of a probationary period. However, there is an expectation that the employer will be reasonable. A probationary period can last anything from three months to a year, but typically it is six months. The time period can depend on the seniority of the role or contract length.

The employer can also reserve the right to extend the probationary period should the need arise by stipulating it in the contract of employment, however, this should not be the norm and should only be agreed upon if there are special factors that justify it.

No matter how long the company decides the probationary period should be, it must be communicated to the employee at the outset of their employment.

How our HR consultants can help your business with Probationary reviews

Our HR consultants can assist your business through probationary periods and the dismisaal process if an employee is not meeting the expected performance. By utilising our outsourced HR service, you will receive unlimited calls and email support through the full process, allowing you hours of communication and HR support.


Contact HR Consultants

Please fill out your details below and a member of our team will get in touch with you.

Don't just take our word for it

Trevor Finlay
Trevor Finlay
The clue is in their name. They really do go beyond the call of duty. We have had an excellent service from the team over several years. Highly recommended for supporting on all staff related issues.
Iain Mcbride
Iain Mcbride
MAC Recruit Group were referred to Natalie and Beyond HR, to help with our initial set up and growth of the business. We received a fanstastic level or service where no questions was too small and all queries were answered in a very timely manner. I have no hesitation to referring Natalie to other business owners and we will continue to use the service for many years to come.
Tracy McGrath
Tracy McGrath
As a start up business, we required help and support to ensure both our business and staff were protected when it came to policies and procedures. We decided to speak with Natalie to find out what we required as a business. From initial telephone conversation, to face to face meeting – Natalie has been amazing. Value for money is brilliant and always knowing Natalie is at the end of the phone for any urgent questions is great for peace of mind. This allows us to free up the time to concentrate on our business. Since engaging Natalie over a year ago, we have recommended Natalie to a number of Clients, friends and family – all have businesses that employ various numbers of staff. She is an asset to any business small or large and her knowledge is second to none.
Anne Muir
Anne Muir
Fabrication Specialists Limited required a company who could keep us up to date with employment law and compliant with the requirements of employee contracts etc. We are delighted with the help and professionalism of Beyond HR, in particular Natalie who is always on the end of the phone when we need her. In these uncertain times dealing with Covid19 issues, BeyondHR have guided us through the requirements of furlough step by step making the whole process much easier to deal with. I would not hesitate to recommend BeyondHR to any company seeking this type of service.
Joanne Peters
Joanne Peters
Natalie has been so helpful in helping me to set up my new business. She has been informative, efficiant and has helped connect me with other useful contacts. Thank you so much. 5* service
Pam Hunter
Pam Hunter
BeyondHR have worked with me for my charity in Scotland, in all types of HR activities, like updating policies, contracts, grievances, disciplinaries, redundancies etc. They approach things in a very practical way, ensuring you know of the potential risks to the business but also being considerate of the resources and limitations within which you work. They give you an impartial ear, sharing the complexities and emotional journey of such situations and ensuring a smooth and legally correct outcome. Would highly recommend them.
Parent Network Scotland PNS
Parent Network Scotland PNS
During a time of change we had reached out to BeyondHR to help guide us through. As a 3rd Sector organisation with tight budgets and capacity the support has been timely and accurate and any time I have needed to talk things through they have been on hand. The Covid 19 crisis has forced us to continue with changes in a smart and thoughtful manner and BeyondHR have been so supportive and feel like a safe pair of hands. I would definitely recommend BeyondHR.