The first few weeks and months that a new employee works for you are so important to handle correctly. You could see this time as almost a trial period to be sure that the person you employed can do the job you recruited them for and is a good fit for your business….if they are not, you can cut your ties with them with less formal process required and in a shorter timescale than when an employee has worked for the business for longer.

How to put in place a probation period

 The requirement to successfully complete a probation period is a clause that would be included in a contract of employment. Typically, probation would be for 3 months but could be as long as 6 months in more senior or complex roles. You may also want to include the right to extend a probation period beyond its initial length in certain situations.

Your commitments to the probation period as an employer 

As the employer, you have a key role to play in a probation period. After all, now you have spent the time and money to recruit someone you want to give them the best chance of success. You should put in place the following:

  • Carry out a well thought out induction ( read our blog on great inductions HERE )
  • Set clear expectations early on so the employee has a good understanding of what is expected of them.
  • Set transparent targets to be achieved
  • Demonstrate what a “good” or “excellent” performance looks like
  • Agree and carry out regular reviews– acknowledge what has been done well and highlight any areas for improvement.
  • Provide support where it is needed to facilitate change.
  • Keep notes of all reviews and conversations held, paying particular attention to agreed actions and outputs.

If it’s not working out, can I dismiss during probation?

You can dismiss an employee during probation however it is important to be sure that you have done everything you can before doing so.

Ask yourself, have you been open and honest with them around their performance, have you set expectations and have you given any support needed to give them every opportunity to improve before deciding to dismiss?

If you are in doubt, you may want to extend probation to give them a little longer to make improvements.

If, after seeking specialist HR advice, you take the decision to dismiss you can do this by carrying out a probation review and after considering all the facts, serve the employee with the required statutory or contractual notice. It is good practice to give the right of appeal if you dismiss even during probation as this can be a great way to pick up any potential risks around areas such as discrimination that could have been missed up to that point which, without being addressed correctly, could lead to time consuming and costly claims.

My employee has performed brilliantly in probation – what do I do now?

 At the end of the probation period, if your employee has performed at a standard you are happy with, you should hold a probation review meeting to revisit the period overall and let them know that they have successfully passed their probation. This should be confirmed in writing too.

It’s good practice from here to set some new targets to be achieved going forward and plan the next review period.

My top tip here is this – don’t stop setting targets and having reviews now that the employee has successfully achieved what was needed during probation. Setting of goals and reviewing performance should be an ongoing process, which in turn should lead to better ongoing performance, motivation and results from your people.


I hope the information in this article has given you useful information to help you put in place and handle a probation period with new employees.

At Black Kat HR we specialise in helping businesses to put in place everything needed to be a great employer of people. If you need support to handle probation periods effectively in your business we can help. You can book a free, short exploratory session to discuss how we can help HERE