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What is a probationary period?

This is the bit right at the beginning of someone’s employment. Normally a probationary period is between 3 and 6 months long. This period of time is used for the employee to get to grips with their new job, for them to receive any training they need, and for the manager to review their performance and overall suitability for the role

What should I do at the start of a probationary period?

We always recommend that at the start of any new job, you inform the employee exactly what’s expected of them and how you want things done. It’s all good and well saying that “it’s common sense”, but sometimes, it doesn’t work out like that. So, give them the best possible start by telling them everything. Don’t leave anything open for interpretation.

Do I need to meet with them?

It would be a fab idea to have regular meetings with the employee. You don’t have to do a meeting every day, but if you set 15 minutes aside once a week / fortnight to have a catch up with them about how they are getting on, this can really help you to squash any issues before they become big problems.

It also gives them the opportunity to see that you are approachable and ask you any questions that they’ve not had the chance to during their normal working hours. Sometimes, people don’t want to come across like they don’t know or understand something, so won’t put their hand up in a group setting and ask for help. Give them the opportunity to do this in an environment where they feel comfortable.

I’m not happy with their performance.

Don’t worry, it happens. Sometimes people need a nudge in the right direction to get them to the place where you need them to be. Other people may just not be suited to that particular type of work or to your business. To find out which one it is we always advise that you give the employee some feedback.

If they aren’t completing the job to the standards required then show them some examples, explain what they need to do, and give them the tools to do it. If they aren’t working quick enough, find out what’s stopping them from doing the job quicker. Is there anything you need to change? Without telling someone what the problem is, you’re not giving them a chance to put things right.

If you’ve already done this and things still haven’t improved, then we would need to look at whether you should extend the probationary period or fail it.

The end…or is it?

When you’re coming close to the end of an employee’s probationary period, you should have a formal review meeting with them. This is to go through everything with them and tell them the outcome of their probationary period. They could have passed it, maybe you need to give them a bit more time, so you extend it, or if it’s really the end, then you need to tell them.

Unfortunately, there will be occasions where an employees’ performance, attendance, or conduct doesn’t meet the standards required. If an extension is not appropriate or you have already extended and there is no improvement, then you will need to fail the employees’ probation. Please contact us to discuss this and our Advisors will guide you through the process.

You will need to invite the employee to a final review meeting to go through your concerns and inform them they have not passed their probationary period. This must be followed up in writing.


Need help organising a new employees probationary period? Looking for some help delivering the bad news? Contact us at or give us a call on 03300 414589


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