Expert View: Probationary Period

Hannah Williamson

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03 Apr 2019

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Inductions, probationary periods & termination

Why is an induction so important?

The importance of an induction is to ensure that an employee seamlessly integrates into your organisation.

The induction plan will not only give an overview of the business, and the different departments within the business, but will also detail all the training that will be required to ensure the employee can fulfil their duties.

It’s important not to forget about the first day that the employee joins your company. It can be a very daunting experience and it will be their first and lasting impression of the company. So, it is important to make sure they are introduced to all of their colleagues, given a full health & safety induction and informed of the simple things such as where the facilities are so they can make themselves a cup of coffee.

What should a business think about when developing an induction plan?

When developing an induction plan a business should think about what has been detailed in the job description and personal specification. This is going to outline the key responsibilities and outputs of the role, and so will be used to formulate the training plan for the new starter.

Why should I use a probationary period?

You should use a probationary period to assess the suitability and capability of a new starter in consideration of all the mentoring, guidance and training they will be given.

We would recommend that all businesses use a probationary period for new starters, and they should typically last between 3-6 months.

How do I measure the performance of a new starter?

To measure the performance of a new starter you should have regular structured reviews throughout the probationary period. Within these reviews you should review their progress in line with the induction plan you’ve developed.

You should always make sure you are well prepared for these meetings, bring in any KPIs or targets that the new starter is working towards. It’s also important to remember that issues need to be dealt with quickly and behaviours can change. So, if anything happens in between these formal catch-ups, have an informal catch up and it can be reviewed at the next structured meeting.

What happens if they fail to perform in their role?

If an employee is failing to perform in their role during their probationary period you have the opportunity to discuss this with them in the regularly scheduled reviews. They should be given appropriate support, guidance, and training in line with your discussions.

If they are still unable to meet the expectations of the role, then you will have two options:

  1. Extend the probationary period
  2. Terminate the employment

How do I extend a probationary period?

You would first meet with the employee and review all past meetings, mentioning the progress they have made.

If it is determined that there are some outstanding development areas you can decide to extend the probationary period.

You need to clearly set out the employee what the further development actions are, as well as the timescale in which these need to be met. I would always recommend that you inform the employee in writing about the outcome of this meeting.

What do I need to do to terminate a probationary period?

Even if you have followed a robust induction plan, the employee may still be unsuccessful in their role, and you have to look to terminate their employment.

You would meet with the employee and run through all the past meetings, performance reviews and objectives that have been set and discuss the reasons these have not been met. If, after this discussion, you still wish to terminate the employment you must give notice as per their contract of main terms.

They are also entitled to any contractual payments such as holiday pay. We would always recommend that you follow up this type of meeting in writing.

Need further advice on probationary periods...

...Or any other HR issue?

Speak to a Croner HR Consultant for expert advice on all things HR and employment law. Call today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Partnerships and Association Manager, responsible in overseeing a team of professional Employment Consultants in providing employment and HR advice to over 120 Associations and their members.

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