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Popping the cork on probationary periods

We've all heard of good old probationary periods and they're written into most employment contracts, but it amazes me how many myths still circulate about probationary periods! So, as per, here I am to debunk some of those myths for y'all. ❌You'll get your contract once you've passed your probation ❌ This hasn't been a rule since circa 1970 and definitely doesn't apply in today's employment setting since contracts of employment must be provided on or before the employee's first day of work. ❌Probationers have no employee rights ❌ I'm not quite sure where this one originates but it's hella wrong. Employees on probation have the same rights as other employees. The main differences are that (providing it's written into your contract) you can vary disciplinary procedures and notice periods if the employee is still in probation. Employees on probation are entitled to receive certain day one rights like the right to take maternity leave, however they will have to accrue the relevant length of service for rights such as flexible working (for now) and the right to claim unfair dismissal. ❌ I can sack someone in probation with no risk ❌ That actually made my HR brain twitch as I wrote it out! Whilst there is a lower risk of an unfair dismissal claim to dismiss within probation due to the required 2 years' service to submit a claim, there is still a risk of a variety of other claims. The existence of a probationary period doesn't make your business immune to tribunal claims. Employers should be incredibly aware of this risk when it comes to absence and underlying health conditions which could be protected through the provisions of the Equality Act. Employees do not need any qualifying period of service to claim automatic unfair dismissal for discrimination so you still need to ensure you follow appropriate procedures. ❌ You're not an employee until you've passed probation ❌ I'm pretty happy that this one has been covered already with the above, but I think it's worth noting that the employment status of an employee does not change upon the successful passing of probation. They are deemed an employee from day one of employment if that is an accurate reflection of the employment relationship of course! ❌ I can sack them at the end of probation if they're no good ❌ This is a grey one. Because yes, technically, you can dismiss a probationer if they haven't met your standards of performance. However, good practice dictates that you at least tell the employee they're not doing well and give them an opportunity to improve before you go terminating their employment. Shona

p.s. If you would like some support with a probation issue, why not apply for a complimentary HR Taster Session?

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