Probationary Clauses – 8 Top Tips for Ensuring you Recruit the Best People Every Time

Recruitment is never an exact science, someone can look great on paper but then in practice not live up to your expectations.

When making an offer of employment it is best practice to include a probationary clause, this serves as a way of seeing how the new employee is in their new role (and for them to see whether they like your company).

Probationary clauses however must be managed effectively and today we share our top tips for getting it right:


  • Get The Time Period Right.  Make the probationary clause a reasonable time limit, we recommend 6 months as standard as this gives long enough for settling in and training but also means there is focus. Probation is a time of uncertainty for the employee so you want to be able to confidently sign the individual off as quickly as is practical.


  • Plan for Boarding and Induction.  Ensure you have a good on boarding and induction plan in place, you must support your employee to meet the expectations through training.


  • Set Clear Expectations.  Be clear about what you expect during the probation and what the employee needs to do in order to get signed off successfully. Consider what work based outcomes or objectives are appropriate as well as what you expect in terms of behaviour. Ensure you share this with your employee and document the expectations.


  • The Power of Feedback.  Conduct regular reviews and feedback, if the employee is doing well then its important to let them know that but a also if they are not quite doing as well as you require regular feedback will help improve that.


  • Know Your Options.  Ensure you are clear on how the probation will be reviewed, we automatically send our clients periodical review documents throughout probation. During reviews you can choose to sign off probation, terminate the contract (with notice as set out in the clause) or extend the probation if more time is needed.


  • Extend If You Have To.  When extending probation ensure you are clear on why and what they need to do in order to bridge any gap you have identified.


  • Know How To Comply.  Ensure you diarise reviews and if you are unable to have the final sign off meeting in good time (and there is a problem with performance) you must extend the probation to allow this to happen. Once the probation has elapsed it is deemed passed unless otherwise stated.


  • Don’t Forget Disciplinary Processes.  Ensure your clause covers that, during probation, you do not have to follow full disciplinary processes. An employee cannot claim unfair dismissal until they have 2 years service however you should still be fair and transparent. An employee can still make a claim for discrimination under The Equality Act 2010 so its important that you conduct regular reviews to uncover any problems contributing to the performance issues.


Final Thoughts

When an employee passes probation it should be a time of celebration. Although you should always confirm it in writing, it is important you meet with the individual and let them know they have passed.

This is also the perfect time to set objectives for the next period of time and to focus on ongoing development in the role.

If you have any questions on probation or would like support in drafting a robust clause please contact us on 01325 288299 (option 2).

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