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New Templates to Support the Effective Management of Probationary Periods

September 2016

This month, Simply-Docs has added to its package of documents aimed at supporting employers in the effective management of probationary periods.

The new Probationary Period Policy sets out how probationary periods will be used by the employer and should be read in conjunction with the Probationary Period Guidance Notes.

By way of reminder, a probationary period is a defined period, usually 3 or 6 months, during which the employer can assess an employee’s suitability for a role; essentially, it is a trial period. Although there is no legal requirement for employers to make use of probationary periods in managing their staff, effective use of probationary periods gives the reassurance on both sides, employer and employee, that a formal review mechanism is in place.

At the start of the probationary period, the line manager should discuss:

  • what the employee is expected to achieve in his or her job during the probationary period and afterwards;
  • details of the company’s core values of the organisation and what is expected of the employee;
  • how any concerns or problems with performance will be addressed;
  • the length of the probationary period;
  • when the probationary period review meetings will take place;
  • what will happen at the end of the probationary period; and
  • the support which is on offer to the employee.

Line managers should have regular progress meetings with the new employee during the course of the probationary period and then a final review meeting at which the employee will be confirmed in post, the probationary period will be extended or employment will be terminated. Simply-Docs has template letters covering each of these three scenarios.

Another new addition to the probationary period documents offered by Simply-Docs, is the Letter Confirming a Probationary Period Following a Transfer or Promotion. This letter is for use when the probationary period follows an internal transfer or promotion. In such a situation, the employee’s continuous service and statutory rights are unaffected by the employee being placed on probation. The procedures to be followed by the employer are similar to those to be used in respect of new employees but the employer is under an implied duty to provide support (e.g. feedback and training) to the employee in the new role.

If the employee does not successfully complete his or her probationary period, the employer must follow a fair dismissal procedure even if the employee does not have the qualifying service required for unfair dismissal because employees can claim discrimination and unfair dismissal for an automatically unfair reason from day one of their employment.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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