The Probation Period
When you start a new job, it is quite normal for there to be a set probation period. This might be as short as a month, or as long as three or six months. If you have a probation period, then your written terms of employment will clearly state the length of the probation period, and any differences in your terms and conditions that apply during the probation period.
Why Do Employers Require A Probation Period?
The idea behind a probation period is to make it easier for an employer to change his mind if he thinks he’s made a mistake in hiring you, where easier means the employer can dismiss you quicker, and for less cost. The better employers also make it easier for you to leave too during your probation period, in case you decide that you’ve taken the wrong job.
This might sound a bit daunting, but in practice it is something that normally works out just fine. After going to all the trouble of hiring you, an employer is already invested financially and emotionally in you, and wants to see you succeed and pass your probation period. At the same time, it’s a good reminder to you that you can’t sit back and relax, that you need to make reasonable effort every day to demonstrate that you’re not a bad hire.
At the start of your probation period, you might be set goals or targets that you have to meet before the end of your probation period, but that really depends on the firm you have joined, the kind of work that they do, and their approach to measuring each employee’s contribution.
It’s always a good idea to ask your employer to be clear on what he expects you to achieve, and when he expects you to achieve it by. Ask for regular feedback: weekly if possible, monthly at the least. A good employer will understand how important it is that you get the feedback you need to improve, and he’ll respond positively to your request for it.
Failing Your Probation Period
Sometimes, the employer will decide that it just isn’t working out, and he will terminate your employment. If this happens, he may ask you to work your contracted notice period. He may instead ask you to leave immediately, and he will pay you in lieu of your notice period.
The employer can also fire you during your probation period for gross misconduct or other disciplinary breaches. (He can also fire you in this way after your probation period!) If he does this, then this is different to failing your probation period, and you normally have the right to appeal using the firm’s disciplinary procedures.
If you believe that you have been unfairly dismissed, then you should seek professional advice to see whether you can bring any sort of case against the employer. Unfortunately this can be quite difficult to do during your first two years of employment, as the law limits your employment rights until you’ve been with the same employer for two years.
If your probation period does not go well, but the employer thinks that you just need a little more time, then the employer can meet with you (provided they do so before the end of your probation period) and tell you that they wish to extend your probation period further. It is then up to you and your employer to discuss the reasons why, and negotiate the length and terms for any extension of the probation period. Once that is done, you need to decide whether to accept a longer probation period or whether to leave.
Passing Your Probation Period
Passing a probation period is very straight forward: if you are still employed by the firm on the first day after your probation period ends, then your probation period has automatically ended. This is why many employers never sit down to officially tell you that you have passed (nor put it in writing), so don’t be surprised if nothing is said to you.Tweet