Below are some of the key points you need to know to manage new employees through their probation period within your company.

What are probation periods?

A probation period is usually added to a contract of employment to ensure that the new staff member is competent and consistently able to complete all aspects of the job role that they have been employed to do. Most probation periods are either 3 or 6 months. Probation lengths can’t be unreasonable, so before you ask, you can’t put an employee on indefinite probation!

If you do have a probation period you must always tell your employees before they join in writing. Ideally, you’d simply include it in your offer letter and contract of employment.

Also, it is important that you don’t just let a probation period end without acknowledgment as an employee is automatically taken off of probation at the end of the probation period if you do not confirm otherwise.

It is possible to extend a probation period?

Just not sure if your new employee is performing to the level you expected; you can extend their probation period. You need to make sure that you met with the employee to notify them of this and then this must be followed up in writing to them with clear expectations.

How do I dismiss an employee while they’re on probation?

Many believe that while an employee is on probation they can be dismissed without recourse; this isn’t entirely accurate, and so it’s important to make sure that you handle the dismissal fairly and professionally. You must have a justifiable reason for dismissing the employee; poor attendance, performance or conduct concerns are all acceptable reasons.

However, instead of waiting until the end of their probation period to address any issues you may have; it is important that you meet regularly with the employee to discuss and document the issues you’re having and outlining what the improvements should be.

If during the course of their probation period they do not improve to an acceptable level, then you should formally invite them to a final probation review meeting where you explain that their performance is not acceptable, and then follow this up in writing to confirm that they have not successfully completed their probation. 

Successfully completing a probation period

However, most of the time a new employee is all they said they would be but it is still a good idea to send them confirmation of successful completion of their probation period.

If any of the above seems daunting, Horizon HR Solutions can support you at every step during the process. Please do get in touch.

Laura Townsend – Director Horizon HR Solutions Ltd

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