Probation Period Predicaments

21 October 2020 Useful Articles

It has recently been reported that the Labour Court awarded an ‘unprofessional’ emailer £4,000 and felt that they should have been counselled and given the chance to change their communication style before being dismissed. We tend to agree. Whilst we don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of this particular case, we felt it an opportune moment to share HR for Better Workplace’s best practice for Dismissals during the Probationary Period or indeed within the first year of employment. It’s such a tricky area and many businesses find themselves caught up in a WRC or Labour Court hearing and shy of a few grand because they aren’t up to speed on what SHOULD happen.

In a nutshell, there needs to be significant changes to the way in which employees within their Probation Period or within their first year of employment are ’let go’ if deemed unsuitable by the employer. This is on the basis of recent awards given to employees who have been deemed to have been ‘let go’ without due process. Herein lies the issue. Process. Or lack of, as the case may be. Institutions like the Labour Court are now insisting that these employees must be afforded due process, indeed a process similar to the organisation’s Disciplinary Process. Adhering to this would save the employer and employee a lot of pain in the long run….

Best Practice from HR for Better Workplaces if there is a performance issue during probation:

  • Hold both a Performance/Suitability meeting and put a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) in place – at same meeting
  • Next up, review the employee’s progress against the PIP
  • Next stop, a Performance/Suitability Investigation
  • This will lead into a Performance/Suitability Hearing
  • Within this there will be a decision, with option for appeal
  • Appeal, if taken
  • Finally, a decision on appeal

So, potentially 7 stages, simplified. Perhaps this feels like a LOT, but it will be worth it in the long run. In certain circumstances the above can be shortened but best to keep the 7 stages at the front of your mind. The employer can save time and money and the employee will at least feel heard, even if they are disgruntled in parting.

Best Practice from HR for Better Workplaces if there is Gross Misconduct:

Where Gross Misconduct is suspected to have occurred during the Probation period, organisations should behave in a manner similar to if the employee was a full-time employee. The procedure is long but essential. For full details click HERE.

All of the above ends up being quite an onerous process for employers but failure to carry this out leaves employers liable to an award being given against them at the WRC or the Labour Court.

It’s not only worth putting the time in, it’s the right thing to do. For more information and advice please contact Laura Powney at or Frank Scott-Lennon at or



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