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SMART probation management

If you fail to plan to manage performance during probation, you are planning to fail! 

The likelihood of issues arising during probation magically disappearing after the probationary period are low.

We strongly recommend that you include a probationary period clause in ALL employment contracts AND that you adopt a probationary period policy and procedure that in essence means that any issues arising (punctuality, attendance, performance, conduct, absence) can then be managed collectively under one policy. These can then be managed through one series of formal meetings without becoming tangled up in capability, disciplinary and absence procedures.

It is a common misconception that you can just “fire” people during probation, and in many businesses this does take place, but it is against a background assessment of risk (cost and reputation).  However, as a public sector employer, schools would be expected to adopt good practice and to ensure a “fair trial” which essentially means:

  • Induction into the role and clarity of expectations
  • Training as appropriate to the role and the individual’s background and experience
  • Clear, objective, evidence relating to any issues
  • Set a clear schedule of probationary period review meetings to take place across the 6 month period and use these for regular feedback / opportunities to provide regular feedback – to enable - not just to feedback on poor performance/improve standards but also highlighting the importance of feeding back positive performance (motivation, building a team etc.…); make notes about these meetings to that you have a good record to refer to should things not work out.
  • Seek to resolve issues informally in the first instance (other than very serious issues of alleged gross misconduct)
  • Sharing evidence to be relied on with the employee in advance
  • Make sure the final probation review meeting takes place WELL WITHIN the probationary period (we would suggest up to 3 weeks before the end to allow for any meeting re-arrangement). It is no good holding it on conclusion of the 6 months.  If the 6 month anniversary date passes and no formal review has occurred, the person defaults in passing their probation leading to the need to follow capability and or disciplinary procedures as well as apply the increased notice period!
  • Giving good notice (at least 5 working days) of any formal meeting from which a decision relating to their continued employment may arise
  • The right of appeal against any decision to dismiss
  • Dismissal in accordance with the notice under their contract

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