Probationary periods

Employers may sometimes state that a contract of employment is permanent subject to the completion of a satisfactory probationary period.

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This period can be used by an employer to assess an employee’s performance and suitability for employment.  The probationary period can be:

  • written into the contract of employment;
  • of varying duration, depending on the training period; and
  • used to appraise an employee’s performance regularly, with relevant assistance and training provided.

Case law

Case law suggests that, regardless of how long the probationary period is, an employee does not have the right to be employed for that full period and, in most cases, an employer will have the right to terminate the contract during the probationary period.  However, an employer must ensure that they follow the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure if terminating a contract of employment during the probationary period.

Last updated: 21 May 2019