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I hope this is an appropriate question. I'm an international worker (US Citizen working in the UK), I work full-time and believe I am an 'employee' of the company.

When I was interviewing/hiring they mentioned that there was a 12-month position with the possibility of being extended. I was going through a recruiter though and he was providing most of the details.

I needed to apply for/be approved for a 'work permit' to reside/work legally in this country. In the paperwork submitted by the company, that I also had to sign, the said they'd offered me a TWO YEAR position, and I've since been told that in order to get a work permit, the company needed to offer me a two year position.

However, the state-issued ID I received is for one-year.

Once I began working, nobody mentioned anything about an end-date. I was told that there was a probationary period and after 12 months I'd be fully entered into their pension program or something.

I'm approaching my one-year anniversary and I feel like I'm ready to move to on, for reasons that have nothing to do with the job. I mentioned the '12-month' thing to my boss at our last 1-on-1 meeting and he told me, as far as he knew, it was just a job - there was no plan for my 'contract' to end and they'd scheduled me for work well into the next year.

Now that I'm considering leaving my position, I'm worried about my resume and how to record this time. I'm afraid that if I quit after one year of working, it will reflect poorly on me, but I'm also afraid that if I claim it was a '12-month contract' and explain it as such, someone might do a background check and see that it needed to be a 2-year position to qualify for the work permit.

Naturally, I didn't agree to work for two years. The contract does say that both I, and the company, need to give the other four weeks of notice before terminating employment.

Anyway, I don't want to lie, but I'd like to present the situation in the best light possible. I feel like completing a 12-month contract overseas is much preferable to quitting a full-time job overseas when I had agreed to work two years.

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Did you sign something? Or did you get a formal letter telling you of your appointment? One of those should give you the answer. Failing that, talk to HR. It's possible that the company want you to work permanently there, but for immigration reasons can only offer you a fixed number of years. –  DJClayworth Nov 12 '12 at 4:49
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As per usual, I advice to find a new job before leaving your current. That would make this entire problem moot as well. –  pap Nov 12 '12 at 14:08
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

A 12-month probation period, in the UK, does not mean the same thing as a 12-month contract. Probation periods are standard on any long-term contract. I've always had 3-month probation period in the past but my current one is 12 months.

The only difference between your probation period and the rest of your full-time contract is the notice period, should you leave or get fired. The reasons for your getting fired are irrelevant during the first 2 years (or 1 year, if hired before April 6 2012) because you can't claim unfair dismissal, regardless of probation status.

These probation periods are supposed to protect the company, to allow them a quick and cheap way to get rid of you if you don't work out. In my experience, it doesn't always work out that way, but that's a different story.

In reality, more often than not, the end of your probation just floats by and nothing changes. In the last company I worked at, we pushed for more than that and eventually had HR interviews and post-probation chats with the boss, just to make sure everyone was happy, no one felt that they'd been lied to at the interview, etc.

But the fact remained that nothing changes, apart from your notice period. You just roll from a probationary contract into full-time. The expectation is that this will happen smoothly, and a conversation must take place if it's not going to. You can't treat it like a 12-month contract, where the expectation is that everyone will part ways after the contracted period, unless a different conversation happens.

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