What Is A Probation Period

| General

What Is A Probation Period?

Ordinarily this is the period of time new members of staff are under an obligation to complete when starting a new position within an organisation. They are often supported by clauses which are baked into the respective member of the workforce’s Terms and Conditions of Employment.

Why Do Employers Oblige New Staff Members Of Staff To Complete Probationary Periods?

The purpose of Employers obliging their members of staff to complete probationary periods is to verify if a colleague is the right fit for the position, whether they have the correct attributes for the position in terms of skills as shown in the relevant job description.

How Long Should Probationary Periods Be?

Contrary to popular beliefs and myths on the subject there is in fact no legally binding length of time during which a probationary period must take place. In practice and under normal circumstances probationary periods are likely to be between twelve and twenty-four weeks. The time spent on a probationary period is conditional upon the type of role a person is carrying out. The length of time is calculated on a per case basis and on the time it will take for a business to make decisions as to the cementing of the particular person’s employment.

Two-Way Street?

Probationary periods should be a two-way street and should benefit both sides. The arrangement allows new staff too to do the job for a set period of time, assess whether it is the right choice and if it is the right position for them they then have the opportunity to dedicate themselves to the respective employer. on the same token it provides businesses the chance to see if a particular colleague is capable off performing on a daily basis. the real advantage for an employer in putting an employee on a probationary is that the time periods to be given for notices to be given to end an employees contract of employment is more straight forward in stark contrast two members of staff whose employment have been fully confirmed.

Are There Any Further Differences?

In stark contrast to what is perceived in the legal profession there are in fact numerous differences between they contract some employments for a member of the workforce who is on the probationary. And those whose full employment has been confirmed. for example, those members of staff who are on their probation. Are not usually ordinarily entitled to the provision of sick pay. in much the same vein they also normally not enrolled into the respective employees pension scheme. however this can contrast starkly from business to business with some employers electing to automatically enrol staff members into the pension scheme 2 improve the perception of the company to the outside world in terms of staff well-being.

In the vast majority of organisations once the probationary. Comes to its conclusion the respective member of the workforce then becomes entitled to the provision of sick pay and as the right to be enrolled in the employers pension scheme. However, as Caitlin Humble, a trainee lawyer with Lupton Fawcett observes correctly that rights of a statutory nature such as the right to be paid the National Living Wage and Minimum Wage starts on the date employment starts.

How Should Employers Be Dealing With Probationary Periods?

In order for probation periods to be effective, it all boils down to communication and this factor is key. Employees should be communicating with the workforce to let them know that they are to undergo a probation period and this must be completed prior to their employment being fully confirmed. This will check that the respective colleague has the:

  • attributes
  • skills
  • character and
  • fit

for the particular position. Ongoing assessment must be carried out and employers should shy away from providing feedback at the conclusion of the probationary period. If employers manage probation periods correctly it will reduce the risk of falling foul of the law in relation to probationary periods.

The Legists Content Team


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[1] Humble, Caitlin – Probationary periods: what HR needs to know – People Management - 13 July 2022 - Probationary periods: what HR needs to know (peoplemanagement.co.uk)

[2] Rigby, Samantha – Everything You Need To Know About Probationary Periods – 4 August 2020 – First Practice Management - Everything You Need to Know about Probationary Periods (firstpracticemanagement.co.uk)#

[3] Manktelow, Deborah – Probation Period – 16 April 2021 – Croneri - Probation Period | Croner

[4] National Minimum Wage Act 1998

[5] Unison – Negotiating Probation policies - Negotiating-probation-policies.pdf (unison.org.uk)



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