Your employer may add a probationary period as a term of your contract starting from day one at work and lasting a number of weeks or months.
Some employers will offer employees less favourable terms and conditions and a lower salary during their probationary period. They can do this provided it is written in the contract. However, they cannot take away your basic statutory rights. Also, you should be treated as an employee from day one.
Your continuity of employment should start on your first day of work, not when the probationary period has ended. This becomes important if your employer uses continuity of employment (i.e. length of service) for certain entitlements such as annual leave.
See our contact checklist on what to check before you agree to your probation period
Your contract should state the length of your probationary period and whether it can be extended.
Extensions should be a reasonable length and for a specific purpose. For example, you might have been absent from work due to sickness and been unable to demonstrate that you have met certain probationary criteria. When extending your probation period, the employer should provide a reason why you can’t be confirmed in post, the particular improvement required or goals to be achieved during the extended probation period and the new date when the probation period will end.
Your notice period should be detailed in your contract. Read more about notice periods here. However, you may be dismissed during your probation period on shorter notice than you would be once confirmed in post, subject to the minimum statutory notice entitlements.
Performance issues and probation
Your work objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound (SMART). Read more about this in our performance reviews section in our capability and performance guide.