Reviewing a probationary period
appointing employing body should inform the em-
Introduction ployee of the review of the probationary period.
The appointment of any employee is usually condi- Depending on the work undertaken, the following
tional upon the satisfactory completion of a proba- are areas for discussion during a review.
tionary period. The employing body can determine
the length of the probationary period, but usually it is 1. THE EMPLOYER
between one and six months depending on the Is the employee able to carry out the work as
nature of the appointment. The probationary period described in the job description and do they
may be extended if there are concerns about the have the ability to undertake the tasks not yet
suitability of the appointment. Any concerns should undertaken? (ie Have certain areas of the job
always be discussed with the employee and clear description been overlooked because the em-
targets set. ployee doesn't feel confident about undertak-
ing them? If so, is there training or help that
For a probationary period to be effective, it must can be offered?)
have the active and positive involvement of both the Do the hours seem realistic for the work that
new employee and the supervisor, so that if there are needs undertaking?
areas that are causing cause for concern during the Can the employee work well with others?
probation period, appropriate action can be taken be- (Any groups with which the employee works
fore the end of the probation period. could be consulted.)
Is pastoral care/support adequate?
A date should be set for an appraisal of the
work in about a year's time.
The Probation Review
2. THE LAY EMPLOYEE
Meeting The employee should present a written
report detailing the areas of work undertaken
The probation review meeting should: during the probationary period.
provide positive feedback on work achievements The employee should be asked if the job is
recognise the areas in which an employee is turning out as expected and if not why not.
meeting required criteria The employee should indicate whether they
discuss areas where standards are not being met would like to continue in the post.
give employees the opportunity to raise concerns The management and personal support
about any aspect of the job that the employee is receiving should be
identify any potential grievances, especially with discussed. Is this enough? Is it appropriate?
regard to bullying, harassment and discrimination Training needs should begin to be identified.
Are the living accommodation/conditions,
One person nominated by the employing body, the where applicable, satisfactory? Is it clear
employee, and a neutral participant should be in- which bills are the employee’s responsibility
volved in the review. The employing body could meet and which are the employer’s responsibility?
beforehand to decide on the issues (if any) they want If applicable, does the employee have suitable
to raise. The employee should also be asked what is- office accommodation, either at home or that
sues need considering and a date agreed for the provided by the employer?
meeting. The neutral person would be there to ob-
serve the process, to ask for clarification in any dis-
cussion and ensure that both participants are able to
contribute equally to the review. Within 24 hours the
Tackling problems Probationary rights
It is vital for both the supervisor and employee to Probationary period employees have the same legal
take prompt action against problems identified in the status as other employees. The probationary period
review meeting and their causes. Supervisors should does not alter their legal rights.
consider what help they can provide the employee.
In the case of problems relating to performance, ap- Although employees enjoy less protection during the
propriate action might include: first year than they do thereafter, all employees are
coaching, either by the supervisor or by an ex- protected from dismissal.
relevant additional training The terms of the probationary period should be
a review of the performance criteria (eg where a clearly set out in each employee’s contract of em-
change in circumstances outside of the em- ployment.
ployee’s control has rendered them impossible
Employees best use probationary periods to
identify problems with their role and distin-
Extending the guish those that are within their control and
those due to organisational issues.
probationary period The probationary period is usually three to
six months, giving employees enough time to
The main reasons for considering an extension to settle into a new organisation and role and
the period of probation are as follows: demonstrate whether they are meeting the
The employee has been on sickness absence job requirements.
and the amount of time actually worked is con-
Probationary periods may be extended if
sequently not sufficient to make judgements on
long sickness absence has made judgements
the probation criteria.
as to an employee’s performance difficult; or
The employee is failing to meet one or more of
if an employee is improving after failing to
the criteria but shows signs of being able to im-
meet performance criteria.
prove. The employer consequently gives them
more time to reach the required standards. The probationary period should alert the
supervisor to any problems that the em-
Extending probation may well be in both parties’ in- ployee is experiencing, so that performance
terests. The alternative from the employer’s view- criteria can be reviewed, as appropriate
point will be to incur the time and cost involved in If an employee identifies problems, they can
another recruitment exercise – with no guarantee ask for more time to meet requirements.
that it will result in the selection of anyone better.
Employees can ask for practical help such as
coaching, training and a review of objectives.
An extension would not normally be for more than
an additional three months, as the end of the twelve- The probationary period should not be seen
month period (after which it becomes more difficult as an attempt to get rid of employees who
to dismiss an employee) may become a relevant fac- perform inadequately.
tor. Part, or all, of a salary increase can be delay-
ed until successful completion of a proba-
Where the period is extended, it is important to set tionary period.
out the terms of the extension in writing, making Employees who successfully complete their
clear: probationary period should be given a final
in what ways the employee’s performance has review to confirm their new employment
fallen short of the requirements status and to tell them how their perform-
the length of the extension ance will be managed in the future.
the performance standards that must be met
within such a period
Lay Employers PROBATIONARY PERIOD-.6(09-2008)