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Probationary Period

Probationary periods are not a legal requirement but are a useful tool for employers to assess the suitability of new recruits and identify additional training requirements.  The following tips set out how to implement them effectively:

1. Determine the length of probationary period.  It should be long enough to allow you to determine an employee’s suitability for the role so the length of time may depend on the complexities of the role.  Periods of either 3 or 6 months are fairly standard.

2. Set out required standards and timescales with the new employee from the outset so that they are clear on what they need to achieve.

3. Have regular one to ones with the new employee to review performance and identify any additional training needs, two way communication is key during probationary periods.

4. If there are issues address them as soon as possible in order to keep the employee’s performance and training on track.

5. Just before the end of the probationary period arrange a probationary review meeting.  If required standards have been met inform the employee that they have passed their probationary period and confirm it in writing.

6. If an employee is not reaching required standards then a probationary extension may be considered but this should only be for a limited time, 3 months maximum.  Again this should be done before the end of the probationary period. 

7. If it is clear that a new employee is not reaching the required standards and they have been given all the necessary training and coaching then it is advisable to terminate before the end of the probationary period.  Ensure that a fair dismissal procedure is followed clearly outlining the reasons for dismissal.