Probationary Period – What you need to know: Przybylska v Modus Telecoms Ltd
A probationary period is frequently used by employers when hiring new workers. An employer can inform a newly hired employee that their performance will be continuously evaluated over the first few weeks and months of employment and that continuation of employment. This maybe contingent upon satisfactorily completing the probationary term by establishing a probationary period. The employee’s expectations about their relationship with the employer may be managed in this way. A probationary term may be used by new hires to assess whether the position is right for them.
The Tribunal has held that an employee’s probationary period should have been regarded as complete when the period expired, and her employer failed to exercise its contractual right to extend it.
In this case the claimant entered into a contract of employment with the employer. It was stated in her contract that she has a three-month probationary period, and her notice period would be one week. Once her probationary period had ended, her notice period would increase to three months.
The employer expressly reserved the right to extend her initial three-month probationary period and one-week notice period if her performance was not up to the standards.
The probationary period ended while the Claimant was on holiday. When this happened, the employer did not expressly exercise its right to extend it, but they informed the Claimant that the probation period was not extended, and the employment was terminated with one week’s notice.
On appeal, the Appeal Tribunal overturned the original decision. It said that the implied term that the initial tribunal had imposed was unnecessary, as there was already an express term allowing the employer to extend the probationary period before it expired.
How can employers efficiently deal with probation periods?
- Decide on the appropriate length for a probationary period.
- Confirm in writing to an employee that they will be on probation.
- Take steps to ensure the best outcome of a probationary period.
- Be aware that employees on probation have the same statutory employment rights as other employees.
- Determine the contractual terms that will apply during a probationary period.
- Consider whether or not to extend the probationary period of an employee who has failed to complete it satisfactorily.
- Take care if an employee’s failure to complete the probationary period satisfactorily might be connected to pregnancy, family-related leave or sickness.
- Confirm employees who have passed their probation in post.
- Comply with statutory and contractual notice obligations when terminating employment during a probationary period or on its expiry.v
How can KLG help?
We can review your existing policies, procedures, and contracts on probation to ensure they remain compliant with the latest legislation and changes.
If you are seeking advice please give our team a call on 0330 221 0684 or visit our website www.klglaw.co.uk to arrange a consultation with a employment law specialist.
(Blog written by Ravneet Sekhon, Trainee Solicitor)
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