Probationary periods are included as a standard practice in most employment contracts. This is frequently provided for in employment contracts to allow for a trial period in which an employer can evaluate an employee’s suitability and performance.
However, probationary periods are not without pitfalls, and dismissal can carry many legal risks during this trial period. Employment contracts that do not contain a probation disclaimer could cause problems for the employer if recruitment is not successful.
The Legality Of Probationary Periods
Firstly, it is worth noting that although you are not legally obliged to include probationary periods for all new recruits, HR Team highly recommends doing so. Your ability to end the employment safely during the initial period will be reduced if you don’t take this precaution.
Many businesses do not take advantage of the probationary period effectively which can increase the risk of unfair dismissal cases, added costs and complications of the recruitment process, as well as inefficient management.
Probationary Period Mistakes
- A failure to set out specific goals or attainments that are expected during this period and any progress meetings.
- Not communicating feedback intended to improve the employee’s performance.
- Failing to gather and consider information on an employee’s performance during the probationary period.
- Ignoring the end of the probationary period and failing to communicate with the employee at this stage.
- Ignoring the probationary period entirely.
Five Important Probationary Period Tips
1. Confirm the probationary period in writing with a signed contract of employment.
2. Outline basic standards for the employee.
3. Set targets for the employee.
4. Provide consistent and constructive feedback.
5. Comply with statutory and contractual notice obligations when terminating or extending the probationary period.
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