Many employment contracts contain a probationary period for new employees. Often this will be a three or six month period that the employer will use to monitor the employee’s performance and which, in some cases, can be extended when the performance is not satisfactory. When the employee performs poorly can the employer use the probationary period for dismissal?
Although probationary periods are commonly used in employment contracts, employers do not automatically have the right to dismiss the employee without good reason. Failing a probationary period could give an employer reason to terminate the contract on capability grounds but the normal rules when dismissing an employee will apply.
As probationary periods can only run for a reasonable amount of time and are used mainly for new employees it is highly unlikely that the employee will have worked the two continuous years needed to gain the right to claim for unfair dismissal. This makes terminating the employment contract somewhat easier for the employer. However the employee can still claim where dismissal is deemed to be automatically unfair or is due to discrimination in relation to a protected characteristic.
Employers will be best scheduling meetings with the employee during the probationary period to discuss progress in the new role and to bring up any issues that may be arising. Documenting these meetings would also be advised in order for both parties to understand what is expected of them. Then, should the employee perform poorly, if the employer chooses to terminate the contract there will be documentary evidence to support the reasoning for the decision.
For further advice or assistance on employment matters including the updating of policies contact our Employment Law Specialist Umberto Vietri 01535 613674 firstname.lastname@example.org
Commercial and Employment Lawyer and Partner
Tel: 01535 613 674