How to Get the Most out of Probationary Periods

The use of probationary periods when hiring is a wise choice for the savvy employer. Probationary periods allow for the employers to gauge how new hires are getting on, their long term value to the organisation, any training needs that may be required, and can offer an insight into how they can get even more from their newest recruits.

Probationary Policy

Firstly it is important to note that companies can only implement the use of probationary periods once a probationary clause has been included in the individuals’ contract of employment and the employee is aware that their contract is subject to satisfactory completion of same.

Probationary periods are generally set at 6 months and can be extended on the outcome if a probationary review meeting, however not exceeding a maximum of 12 months as outlined in the Unfair Dismissals Act 1997 – 2007 (please note that the employee’s notice period should be considered in this timeframe).

Probationary Reviews

Review meetings are an opportunity to evaluation the employees overall performance since joining the company and is not an alternative to disciplinary. However any disciplinary proceedings to date can be considered in the course of a probationary review. Review meetings is a chance for the appraiser and employee to have an open, frank and proactive discussion on what the employee has achieved to date and compare it to any standards the pre-set.

At the start of employment and the start of every subsequent review meeting, the manager conducting the appraisal should agree clear and achievable objectives for the employee to strive for. Using measurable targets and standards can be useful as it shows clearly the progress the employee has made in the reference period. It is important to remember that employees may perform better if they know what is expected of them and they will require support to achieve this. This is particularly true in the case of new employees.

Performance reviews should be set at increments, usually 3 and 6 months. This ensures that employees are aware that their performance is being monitored and allows them the opportunity to implement and recommendations and the results to be measured.

Identifying Performance Concerns

Early identification of performance issues can be very helpful to employers, as once identified steps can be put in place to address. By identifying issues at the onset of employment, companies can tackle the issue head on rather than allowing the issue to escalate. It also allows a neutral platform for employees to raise any issues that they feeling have been impacting their capacity to perform and may aid the integration of new hires into the organisation.

If in the unfortunate situation that it is identified that an employee is not meeting expectations, a probationary reviews can justify ending an underperforming employees contract of employment.

In summary, probationary reviews provide an opportunity for employers and employees to ensure that they share the same expectations. If it is found that there is a discord between the two, probationary periods can allow the platform to align these expectations before they become a larger issue.

Written by Olwen Smith. For any further information on this matter, please call the Peninsula Advice Service on 1890 252 923 for a free advice call, quoting SBC2014.

Visit Peninsula Advice Service for more Employment Law and Health & Safety updates.

As part of the 'Use SBC as a channel' initiative, Peninsula Business Services are offering complimentary Employment Law and Health & Safety advice calls to all SBC members and readers. All you need to do is call Peninsula Business Services on 1890 252 923 and quote SBC.




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