Probationary periods, pointless?

Some may say a probationary period is pointless, because new employees can only claim unfair dismissal once they’ve accrued two years’ service.

Unfair dismissal – this is where a dismissal doesn’t fall within one of the potentially fair statutory reasons to dismiss. Which are, conduct, capability, redundancy, illegality or some other substantial reason. A employee will need two years continuous service before they accrue the statutory right to issue and unfair dismissal claim.

It has been suggested, due to the employee’s now requiring two years’ service before being able to bring a claim, that the probationary period is pointless.

However, whilst an employee is within a probationary period, an employer can dismiss as they see fit however from day one of employment, the employee has the right not to be discriminated against due to race, pregnancy ect so if you do dismiss an employee without good reason you may still find yourself receiving an tribunal claim if they employee has a protected characteristic.

Probationary periods tend to last between three to six months and offers a number of benefits. With the correct wording, you can provide for a much shorter notice period. The new employee will be aware that their performance is under constant review and that they are at risk of losing their job if their conduct or performance isn’t up to scratch.

If you dismiss the employee during the probationary period, you will be in a better position to defend a discrimination claim if you had good work related reasons for the dismissal.

It is an employers choice whether to use a probation period however they do send a clear message to new employees that the job is not guarantee until suitability has been proven.

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Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 10 Jan 2019

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