Extending a Probation Period
Probation periods allow employers the opportunity to gauge whether they have the right person for a role. In practice, however, the initial probation period may not prove to be long enough for the manager to formally sign off the new employee as passing their probation, perhaps due to performance issues. Extending the probation period allows more time for the employee to meet their targets and performance standards.
There could be various reasons why managers would want to extend probation periods but, in most cases, this is likely to be because they need more time to test or assess the capabilities of a person who is new to a role. This could be, for example, where there have been concerns over performance or conduct but they’re showing signs of continuing improvement.
It could also be where a probationary employee has been absent from the workplace for a significant proportion of their trial period through sick leave, where an extension may be necessary to enable the employer to evaluate their performance over a reasonable period.
An extended probation period will enable managers to further assess the employee’s suitability on a trial basis, without being forced into making a potentially premature decision as to taking them on. It will also ensure that managers are not forced into making a hasty decision to dismiss and losing a potentially valuable member of staff in whom a great deal of time and money has already been invested especially where a further period, perhaps with appropriate support or additional training, is likely to see them succeed.
The employee should also be forewarned of the potential consequences of failing to meet the requisite standards of performance or behaviour required of them that their employment contract will be ended within the timescale provided.
Below are some practical tips on how to effectively manage a probation extension period to provide the employee with every opportunity to address outstanding concerns:
- Set clear targets and goals: to provide some form of reference point to assess the individual’s suitability for both the role and the business, and to create clear expectations, specific targets and goals should be set.
- Schedule regular reviews: to effectively monitor and assess an employee’s performance during the probation extension period, including any specific targets and goals that may have been set, employees should undergo regular reviews.
- Provide appropriate support: if the probationary employee is struggling, they may require additional training, supervision or some other form of support. It’s in the best interests of everyone to ensure that the right support is given so that the necessary improvements are made, rather than letting the employee go and starting the recruitment process over.
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