Probationary periods – why bother?

There is no legal requirement to have a probationary period but by having it written into a contract of employment, can give both the employee and employer the opportunity to assess whether they are a good fit for each other.

Here are our top tips:-

  1. Make sure you have a clause in the employee’s contract of employment setting out how the probationary period will operate and how long it will last (typically they last 3 to 6 months) and do include a provision for the probationary period to be extended.
  2. There should be no surprises
    1. Don’t wait until the end of the probationary period before addressing any concerns you may have relating to performance or conduct.
    2. If there are concerns put measures in place to help the employee to improve.
  3. Plan for the probationary period
    1. Gather feedback from other managers
    2. Reflect on work they have completed
  4. Use a probationary review form
    1. This can be used to help structure your meeting and can be used to agree any action points
  5. Confirmation
    1. After the probationary meeting, write to confirm the outcome.
    2. If you are extending the probationary period, make the required standards clear i.e. when are going to review and confirm the possible outcome of not achieving.
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