Probation Periods- Extend or dismiss?

Most new employees will have a period of time at the start of their employment during which their manager will assess their performance and suitability for the role. This period is called a “Probation period” and might last for 3 or 6 months.  If a member of your team has their probation period ending soon, you will need to look at their performance so far and decide whether to confirm their employment, extend the probationary period or dismiss the employee.

Confirm the role

If you’re happy with the employee’s performance you should confirm in writing that they have passed their probation and save the letter in the employee’s HR file for future reference.

This letter should confirm that their probation has been successfully passed and the date on which this occurred.

If their contract was worded as such that the employee had fewer rights in their probation period, for example if a shorter period of notice would be given in this time, you may wish to draw their attention to the full rights which they will now have.

Extending a probation period

If your employment contracts stipulate that you can do so, you might decide to extend an employee’s probation period for a number of reasons:

  • Where you have concerns about the employee’s abilities
  • If they consistently miss targets
  • If they have taken excessive amounts of sickness absence
  • Conduct issues such as lateness or failure to adhere to the dress code

Before extending the probation you should meet with the employee to discuss the reasons and follow this up with confirmation in writing. The probation extension letter should include the date that the probation is extended to, and also any targets which are expected to be met during the extension.

Where the initial probation was for a period of 3 or 6 months, it would be reasonable to extend the probation for a further three months to monitor the issue(s).

Dismissing the employee

Where you have extended the employee’s probation period and still have not seen sufficient improvements, you may consider dismissing that employee.

Throughout their probation you should collect examples of good and poor performance and in particular failure to meet set targets. At a dismissal meeting these can all be used as evidence.

As with all dismissals, you should be careful not to breach the employee’s rights and in particular the right not to be discriminated against. Where the employee has had a large amount of sickness absence, are you certain that this wasn’t down to a disability? If it was and you dismiss them regardless then that employee might bring a case against the company for disability discrimination.

It is important to include clear and concise provisions relating to probation periods in your contracts. At TBOS we can provide you with help and guidance on your contracts. You can contact us on 0345 504 6333.