No Special Powers for Passing Probabtion

#HRFridayfact: Probationary periods are best practice rather than a legal requirement & employees do not gain special powers upon passing.

It’s a misconception that once a new employee has passed his or her probationary period that they suddenly become dismissal-proof or gain special rights. We recommend that organisations use probationary periods as a management tool, however they are not a legal requirement.

If your probationary process is properly executed then the need to dismiss someone after they have met their probation criteria should raise questions within your organisation. When it does happen though, best practice suggests that a disciplinary process may be the best route to take to minimise the company’s exposure to risk.

Probationary periods are usually set for three months as this is deemed to be a fair period of time to make an assessment of an employee, their behaviour and productivity. It is the timescale adopted by most although shorter or longer periods are perfectly acceptable and should be driven by the particular job and needs of the business.

Throughout the probationary period, the employee should undergo a properly planned induction process and receive regular feedback. Leaving someone to their own devices followed by a judgment at the three month mark isn’t really fair. The employee should be made aware whether or not their performance is meeting the required standard throughout the probation period and given the opportunity to amend it if it isn’t.
If the employee doesn’t meet required standards by their probation term then it’s okay to simply dismiss. However, if you’ve managed the process properly, the dismissal won’t come as a surprise.

If, at the end of probation, the employee still hasn’t reached standard but the employer can see that there is potential to do so, an extension of the probationary period may be a suitable course of action. The probation can be extended for any appropriate period.

Whether the probationary period is passed or extended should be confirmed in writing so that the employee knows where they stand and no assumption of passing probation is made.

Occasionally we hear about members of staff whose performance has dropped following the end of their probation and their employer wants to know what they should do. We usually recommend performance managing the individual but, as full employment rights are not achieved until two years’ service, it’s not strictly necessary so a simple dismissal is always an option until then. This is unless there are any discrimination risks however as there is no length of service eligibility for a discrimination claim.

For further help and advice with probationary periods and induction programmes, call us on 01452 331331 or email

27 July 2017, 16:04