Do I have to use a probationary period?

Why should I have a probationary period?

Probation periods are a really useful tool for employers to use during the start of an employment relationship.  

The truth is that a probation period can be beneficial to both you and your employees. Although they are not a legal requirement, we would recommend that you make use of a probation period to provide really clear expectations and objectives for your new recruit.

Are Employee performance reviews essential?

You should regularly meet with the employee and review their performance with them. In doing so, you can make an informed decision on whether or not to continue their employment and you can also identify any additional support or training that may be required 

The benefit to the employee is that If you find that their performance isn’t at the required standard, your review meetings allow them the opportunity to improve. If they show improvement but are still not where you need them to be, it is possible to extend probation periods and as with most things, this should be confirmed in writing 

Benefits to the employer of a notice period:

Save time and money


For example, It is not uncommon for employers to only offer certain benefits to employees upon successful completion of their probation period . Adopting this approach could mean that you are saving time and money on the administration of benefits who isn’t going to be with you long-term 

Wider discretion & flexibility

It is also possible for employers to not apply certain policies procedures during a probation period As an example it is quite common for the disciplinary procedure to not apply during the probation period. 

This means that where disciplinary matters arise during a probation period, the employer has wider discretion and flexibility in the management of such issues which can be beneficial in terms of timely decision making. 

Make sure it’s clear in your contract of employment

If you do decide that you are going to implement a probation period for your employees, you must make sure that you include the details of this in your contract of employment 

You need to confirm the length of the probation. This shouldn’t be excessive and the most common practice is for this to be between 3 and 6 months. This should provide you with adequate time to assess an employee’s suitability for the role and to make a judgement on their continued employment 

You also need to confirm the length of the notice period during the probation period. It is common practice for the employer to operate a shorter period of notice to terminate than would ordinarily be provided by the contract. This reduces the cost of dismissal and gives employers more flexibility to terminate employment quickly if things are not working out.  

For example, if your standard notice period for employees is one month, you could reduce this to one week from either party during their probation. Also, make clear any policies or benefits that will not apply 

Failure to do so could open you up to the risk of breaching the employment contract if you don’t then apply your contractual benefits or if you fail to follow your company procedures 

If you’ve got any specific queries, please do get in touch by using the contact form below: