Probationary periods are often for the first 3 or 6 months of your new job and are used by your Employer to assess your performance and conduct during your early stages of employment, to make sure they are happy with your work.
However, probationary periods have no legal basis, so what do they actually mean? Here we give you the basic facts:
- Your Employment starts from your original start date, not from the date at the end of your probationary period (when you are ‘confirmed’ in the job).
- This means that your length of service, which is essential in determining your eligibility for statutory employment rights, starts from your original start date and is not affected by the probationary period.
- This includes the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
If your Employer is not satisfied with your performance or conduct during your probationary period:
- They may have the option to extend the probationary period if this is written into your contract (but again this does not affect your original start date) or
- They can dismiss you.
Your Employer can dismiss you legally if they are unhappy with your performance or conduct if:
- They follow correct disciplinary procedures (your Employer may also have a separate probationary period policy which outlines their procedures to end your employment) and
- They give you the correct notice period to dismiss you.
- However, your Employer does not have to wait until the end of your probationary period to dismiss you.
If your Employer does not follow a disciplinary procedure to dismiss you, and your Employers disciplinary procedure is contractual, then they may be in breach of contract.
If you believe that your dismissal is unfair and you have 2 years service with your Employer (from your original start date, not from the end of your probationary period) you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. You can bring a claim for discrimination to an Employment Tribunal at any point in your employment, from day 1, you do not need to have 2 years service if you believe you have been discriminated against.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.