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Topic: Staff handbook - terms and conditions of employment

probation period clause
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Probation period clause

Probation period clause

It’s common for new employees to be subject to a probation period, during which time you will closely monitor their performance and conduct. However, be aware that labelling an employee as a “probationer” has very little effect on the employer/employee relationship.

On probation

It’s always advisable to make a new employee subject to a probationary period, usually three or six months, (but it can be longer or shorter), in order to enable you to assess their suitability for the employment. During this time, you should appraise the employee on a regular basis, giving guidance, advice or warning where necessary. However, the status of probationer doesn’t enable you to simply dispense with the employee’s services if they are found to be unsatisfactory. The employee still has all the protections of employment law, for example, the right to claim unlawful discrimination and the right to a notice period and holiday pay.

Short notice

There are two main benefits to having a probationary period. First, you could provide for a shorter notice period during probation, for example, one week (or even less during the first month of employment) compared to your usual notice period of, say, one month. Our Probation Period Clause contemplates this. Second, the employee will be aware they are being appraised and therefore that they are at risk of losing their job if their conduct or performance isn’t up to scratch. This should hopefully mean they will try harder. It’s also worth including in your clause the right to extend probation in certain circumstances (usually where conduct or performance hasn’t been entirely satisfactory but you want to give the employee a further chance to improve, or they have been absent for a significant chunk of the probation period) and our clause includes this provision. Note that for employees (and workers) starting employment (or their engagement) on or after 6 April 2020, you must include details of any probationary period, including any conditions and its duration, in the written statement of employment particulars.

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