In the realm of employment, the probationary period serves as a crucial phase for both employers and employees.

This article explores the significance of probationary periods, the flexibility they offer in addressing performance issues, and the proper procedures for dismissal if necessary.

Understanding the Purpose of Probationary Periods

The primary objective of the probationary period is to provide employers with an opportunity to closely monitor and assess a new employee’s performance during the initial stages of their tenure. This period is pivotal in determining the individual’s suitability for continued employment within the organisation.

Timely Action

You Don’t Have to Wait Until the End: One common misconception is that employers must wait until the end of the probationary period before taking any action in the case of unsatisfactory performance. However, this is not the case. Employers are empowered to address performance issues as they arise, ensuring a proactive approach to workforce management.

Adherence to Contractual Disciplinary Procedures

In the event that a probationer’s performance falls short of expectations, it is imperative for employers to adhere to any applicable contractual disciplinary procedures before considering dismissal. This step ensures fairness and transparency in handling employment-related issues.

Providing Notice

Legal Obligations: Should the decision to terminate employment become necessary, employers must comply with the required period of contractual notice. Alternatively, they must provide the statutory minimum notice, if it is longer than contractual. This legal obligation underscores the importance of meticulous planning and adherence to established procedures.

Navigating Choppy Waters

Reviewing Policies and Procedures: To mitigate potential challenges during probationary periods, it is prudent for employers to regularly review and update existing policies, procedures, and employment contracts. This proactive measure ensures ongoing compliance with the latest legislation and aligns these crucial documents with the overarching business strategy.

Alignment with Business Strategy

A well-crafted and up-to-date set of policies, procedures, and contracts not only ensures compliance but also aligns with the broader business strategy. Employers should view this as an opportunity to foster a work environment that reflects the values and goals of the organisation.


Probationary periods play a pivotal role in the employment lifecycle, providing a structured approach to employee evaluation.

By understanding the purpose of probationary periods, taking timely action in response to performance issues, following proper disciplinary procedures, and ensuring compliance with legal obligations, employers can navigate these periods effectively.

Regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures further safeguards against potential challenges, fostering a workplace environment that is both compliant and strategically aligned.