The term “Probationary Period” has no legal meaning or status whatsoever! At vivoHR we bang on about probation a lot but we are reminded to remind you following a useful article in Personnel Today this month…

Being on probation does not mean someone has a temporary contract or that they are not an employee yet.

Being on probation does not give someone any additional rights nor does it mean they have less employment rights – the key factor in terms of rights is the length of service whereby someone who has less than 2 years’ service cannot bring a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal. Employees are generally entitled to paid notice if you decide they aren’t right for the business and terminate their employment (some contracts may lawfully state no notice will be paid in the first month). Many employment rights are “day one” rights and so employees are entitled from the very beginning.

Being on probation doesn’t mean employees don’t accrue holiday – long gone are the days when holiday entitlement didn’t start until someone had worked 13 weeks. What employers can do is specify that no holiday can be taken during the probation period whilst the new employee is learning their new role.

So why have a probationary period? It sets the expectation that certain standards must be met in the first few months of employment; it highlights a need to meet these standards or potentially have the employment terminated. It is a time to identify induction & first training needs. It gives a means by which a manager can promptly make decisions about a new employee’s ongoing career in the business.

So it is a useful tool but remember it does have limitations.


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