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Probation

A probationary employee is someone (temporary or permanent) who has recently joined the Authority and is serving their probationary period as allowed for in the contract of employment, for example, the first six months of employment up to a maximum of 12 months (unless extended in exceptional circumstances).

The probationary period allows both you and your line manager to assess suitability for the position to which you have been recruited. It is an opportunity for your managers to provide the necessary guidance, support and encouragement to help you develop the skills and knowledge required to do the job to an acceptable standard.

You will receive a full and thorough departmental induction and be invited to a Corporate Welcome event within the first four months of employment.

You should be clear about your objectives and required standards of performance and behaviour (via the induction procedure and separate appraisals).

You will be expected to achieve the required standards and will be advised of any shortfall and given an opportunity to improve within the probationary period.

If you do not meet the required standards during your probationary period, despite the appropriate support or action being put in place you may be dismissed, with notice, within the probationary period (except for cases of gross misconduct which may result in dismissal without notice).

You will be notified in writing at the satisfactory conclusion of your probationary period.

People Management (PM)

The PM HR team will provide advice and support during the probationary period, write to you to confirm the conclusion of a satisfactory probationary period and will monitor the application of the Managing probationary employees’ policy and procedure.

Line managers/supervisors

Line managers/supervisors are responsible for managing the performance of all employees, including probationers. This will include ensuring that a full induction to the job is followed and that regular performance appraisals are conducted at the recommended periods (as a minimum). It also includes taking swift action when problems with performance or behaviour are identified. Managers are also responsible for keeping appropriate records and for notifying the PM HR Team of the conclusion of a satisfactory probationary period.

Employees

You are responsible for adhering to the Authority’s procedures, codes of conduct, etc to attend work regularly and to raise any concerns regarding your work or working conditions, with your line manager at the earliest opportunity.

Your Line Manager must set clear objectives for you at the start of your employment and provide any support agreed at that time.

  • Probationary periods of 6 months: Regular formal appraisals of performance and review of objectives should take place by the end of months 1, 3 and 5.
  • Probationary periods of up to 12 months: additional reviews should take place at 9 and 11 months.

It may be appropriate to meet with you more regularly than this.

A written record of each appraisal meeting should be made and agreed, you should receive a copy and a copy should be placed on your personal file. This will usually contain agreed objectives; problems identified, support (e.g. training) and agreed timescales.

If problems are identified (e.g., with attendance, performance or conduct) the appropriate remedial action should be put in place and you should be cautioned that failure to improve within the required time scale may result in further action being taken which may include dismissal.

If performance or conduct does not improve despite appropriate support being provided, or in cases considered as gross misconduct, your line manager should liaise with the PM HR team regarding the appropriate action to be taken.

In all cases where you’re continuing employment is in jeopardy, where action such as withholding salary increments, or where you should be given the opportunity of formally responding to the issues being raised against you, the following procedure should be followed:

Step 1: We will write to you notifying you of the issues of concern and inviting you to a formal meeting to discuss the matter. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider your response prior to the meeting (a minimum of 14 calendar days notice is suggested) and advised of your right to be accompanied by a recognised trade union official or work colleague.

Step 2: Hold a meeting to discuss the issues. The meeting will be chaired by the Departmental Head of Service or his/her nominated representative accompanied by an appropriate officer (e.g. from PM HR Team). You must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting. If you cannot attend, you must advise of the reasons as soon as possible. If the reason is outside your control and unforeseeable at the time the meeting was arranged (e.g. illness), another hearing will be arranged. If the Trade Union official or work colleague cannot attend, another date can be arranged, provided it is not more than 14 calendar days after the original date. Failure to attend the meeting without good reason may result in a decision being taken in your absence and the procedure being brought to an end.

After the meeting, you will be informed of the decision in writing within 14 calendar days and advised of your right of appeal.

Step 3: If you wish to appeal, you must do so in writing to the Departmental Director within 14 calendar days, who will set up a formal appeal meeting at which you have the right to be accompanied by a recognised Trade Union Official or work colleague. The Director or his/her nominated representative, accompanied by an appropriate officer (e.g. the PM HR Team, but not the same officer who was involved in the Step 2 meeting) will hear the appeal and inform you in writing, of their decision. This meeting does not have to be arranged before the dismissal or disciplinary action takes effect. The Appeal Meeting and decision is final and there is no further right of appeal within the Council.

You should be offered the right to be accompanied by a trade union official or work colleague at any meeting where a caution is likely to be issued or where the extension of the probationary period is being discussed.

If you wish to raise a grievance during your probationary period you should refer to the Authority’s Grievance Procedure.

In most cases, new employees and managers will have sufficient time within the probationary period to assess the suitability for the post.

However, the probationary period may be extended in some circumstances, including:

  • Where you have improved and have the potential to reach the required standards but the review period extends beyond the probationary end date. If the extension takes you beyond the salary incremental date, consideration may be given to delaying or withholding the payment of the increment (the procedure set out in paragraphs 16 & 17 should be followed).
  • Where problems only become apparent later in the probationary period and the review process cannot be completed within the original timescale.
  • Where you have been absent for a significant proportion of the probationary period (for example, due to maternity leave, accident, long term illness or disability) and there has not been an opportunity to make a fair assessment. Note: Attendance is a factor to consider during the probationary period.
  • Other substantive or operational reasons, for example, the job has changed significantly as a result of restructuring, etc.

Advice should be sought from the PM HR Team prior to agreeing an extension to the probationary period.

Page updated: 05/09/2018 13:42:58