What is a Probation Period?

There are different ways to define a probation period, for example:

  • A probation period is a specific period of time for both the employee and employer to assess suitability of the job/role after having first-hand experience.
  • A probation period gives the employer some time to make sure that the selection they made for their vacancy was the right choice.
  • Probationary periods are defined periods of time that employees are exempt from certain contractual items, most importantly the notice period required for termination. The probationary period allows both employee and employer to see if they are a ‘good fit’ and to make things easier if they need to terminate the contract.
  • A working test period of varying lengths used by management to observe an employee’s performance before making a final selection decision.

It is an opportunity to evaluate the new employee’s performance, commitment and general suitability for the role, and to take any necessary action if they are failing to meet the requirements.

They generally last for between one and six months, and both the employer and employee have the opportunity, subject to a notice period, to walk away from the agreement at any point during this time.

The probation period can also be known as a trial period, employment probation, probationary employment period, probationary period or simply probation.

A distinctly separate but intricately linked element of the probation process is the induction process. An induction process will involve (usually within the first week):

  • Administration (e.g. collecting bank details);
  • Any mandatory/in-house training (e.g. health and safety training specific to the organisation, such as site safety for construction workers); and
  • A walkabout/presentation/outline of the organisation.

You can find further information on probation periods here.

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