Length of Probationary Period (DOC)

					Report to Staff Committee Probation Consultation Document
I am reviewing the procedures for probation within the University and would be very interested in your views. In order to stimulate debate please find attached to this document a suggested outline procedure for probation, and suggested probationary periods and appeal levels for different groups of staff. I would emphasise that these are purely thought starters and I would be genuinely interested in any alternative proposals or suggested refinements. I have posed a number of questions below based on the attached suggestions and would very much welcome your views: Statutory appointments  Should newly appointed Professors and Readers from outside the University be subject to a probationary period? Probationary period  Are the proposed probationary periods appropriate for each grade of staff?  Where there is sufficient evidence of unsatisfactory conduct or performance despite reasonable attempts to address the performance with support and development activities, do you agree that the University should consider termination of contract before the expiry of the probationary period?  If there is the opportunity to review performance before the formal review date do you feel there is a need for interim reports?  At what intervals do you feel it appropriate to review academic staff performance – should we retain the three year period, and when should we conduct interim reviews? Reports  Do you agree that the best judge of performance is the individual’s line manager?  Is it necessary for the reviewing manager to see all probation plans?  Is it necessary for the reviewing manager to see all probationary reports, or only those where there is unsatisfactory conduct or performance?  If we retained probation committees do you feel it is necessary that the committee should see all probationary reports?  Does this depend on the level or type of post considered, and if so which reports should be reviewed and by whom? Probation committee  Is a probation committee necessary – can they add value?  If so should there be separate Faculty and Services committees?  What should be the constitution of these committees  What levels of post if any should be considered by committees?

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Probation plan  Should there be a probation plan?  Should this apply to all groups of staff?  Should the probation plan be approved by the reviewing manager or probation committee or relevant body receiving the probation report?  Should the Dean of Research approve probation plans of academic and/or research staff?  Should the Dean of Undergraduate Teaching approve probation plans of academic staff?  Should the Head of Administration approve probation plans of Faculty support staff, and if so for which levels of staff?  Who should approve plans for Central Services staff? Appeals  Who should be the relevant appeal body for each group of staff?  Should appeals be heard by an individual or by a committee? Notice periods  It is proposed that the notice period for all new staff at levels F and above be harmonised with that of research staff, which is 1 month for the first two years of service, and 3 months for staff with over two years’ service. Do you agree with this proposal?

Helen Cameron Human Resources Officer 12th June 2008

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Suggested outline probation procedure
1. All new University employees and newly appointed academic members of staff will be required to serve a probationary period. 2. The employee’s line manager should meet with the probationer during the first few weeks of their induction period to discuss their probation plan and to agree any initial development needs, and the objectives and quality measures against which their performance will be measured. This may be recorded on the PDR documentation or in a separate format as appropriate. For academic staff a template probation plan will be available to record this. For support staff the incorporation of success factors may also be appropriate. 3. The probation plan will be forwarded to the Head of School/Service or appropriate Reviewing Manager for information. (Note: in all cases the Reviewing Manager would have sufficient authorisation to dismiss staff and appropriate authority levels would be defined in the revised procedures.) 4. The line manager will review the individual’s progress on an ongoing basis during the probationary period. Whenever a member of staff’s conduct or performance gives rise for concern, this should be addressed immediately with the individual so they are aware of the nature and extent of the shortfall against expected standards. Where appropriate plans should be put in place to assist them in reaching a satisfactory standard by the review date. Advice is available from HR. Notes should be kept of all meetings held to discuss an individual’s conduct or performance. Where the line manager has concern that the individual’s performance or conduct will not reach a satisfactory standard despite the advice or support offered, a report may be prepared for consideration by the Reviewing Manager in advance of the review period further to consultation with HR. The report may recommend termination of appointment (see below) or, exceptionally, an extension to the probationary period or. The content of the report and its recommendations must be shared with the probationer. 5. At the formal review period, the line manager will hold a PDR with the employee during which the individual’s progress against the probation plan will be formally reviewed. The line manager will then write a probation report for consideration by the appropriate Reviewing Manager. The report and the recommendations must be discussed with the probationer, and new objectives will be agreed for the following performance review period. 6. Where the Reviewing Manager agrees that the probationer’s performance is satisfactory at the final review stage, HR will be asked to write to confirm the individual’s appointment.

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7. Where the line manager feels that despite support and assistance the individual’s performance has failed to meet a satisfactory standard, this should be discussed with HR prior to preparing the probation report. 8. In exceptional circumstances there may be grounds to believe that with further time the performance or conduct might improve to a satisfactory level. In this case, a report should be prepared containing a recommendation for the extension of the probation for a reasonable period of time to be agreed with HR. The report should include a further probation plan to cover the improvements required over the extended probation period. Where the Reviewing Manager agrees to the extension, this is confirmed in a letter from HR and a further probation report should be prepared at the end of the extension to the probationary period. Note it is intended that extension should be agreed in exceptional cases only. 9. Where however it is felt that the performance or conduct is not likely to reach a satisfactory level within a reasonable timescale a recommendation for non-confirmation of appointment will be made. Where nonconfirmation of appointment is recommended, the employee will be invited to a meeting with the Reviewing Manager and HR. The letter will inform them that their appointment may not be confirmed and that their employment may be terminated. A copy of the probation report will be enclosed with the letter and they will be given at least 5 days’ written notice of the meeting. They will have the right to trade union representation and will be given the opportunity to present any evidence or make any representations they wish in their defence. 10. Where non-confirmation of appointment is agreed, the member of staff will be issued with a letter informing them that their appointment has not been confirmed and issuing them with their contractual notice period. The individual will be informed in the letter of their appeal rights. (Note it is proposed that the notice period for all new staff at levels F and above be harmonised with that of research staff, which is 1 month for the first two years of service, and 3 months for staff with over two years’ service.)

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Suggested probationary periods
Grades A to E  Probationary period 6 months, with the availability of extension (no more than 3 months?) where appropriate  Formal review at 6 months, and at end of any agreed extension period  Appeals to be heard by Head of School/Faculty Head of Administration/Service Head/Registrar Grades F to H, non-academic  Probationary period one year, with the availability of extension where appropriate  Formal review at 10 months  Appeals to be heard by Faculty Head of Administration/ Registrar Grades F to H, research  Probationary period one year, with the availability of extension where appropriate  Formal review at 10 months  Appeals to be heard by Dean of Research Grades F to H, academic  Probationary period two years, with the availability of extension where appropriate  Formal reviews at 12 months and 22 months  Appeals to be heard by Chair of Staff Committee Grade I  Probationary period two years, with the availability of extension where appropriate  Formal reviews at 12 months and 22 months, and at end of any agreed extension period  Appeals to be heard by Chair of Staff Committee

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