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I have received an offer letter from a company that I have been interviewed by but the offer letter does not have a specific probation period. I have been told that it's usually on the contract?

I have 24 hours to reply and I'm not sure what to do. Should I email the person (HR) who sent over the offer letter or the person that interviewed me and has been in contact with me?

PS: It's for 4 months of paid internship.

If there's no probation period, am I obliged to stay for the whole 4 months internship?

  • Did they not also send the contract? – DJClayworth Aug 4 at 22:35
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    If its not in the contract then its not on your contract. – solarflare Aug 4 at 23:09
  • They did not send in the contract. If there's no probation period, am I obliged to stay for the whole 4 months internship? – Jay Aug 5 at 0:27
  • @JoeStrazzere - I'm guessing OP is in UK where this is common. But I suspect that a probationary period for an intern is kind of a wash. – selbie Aug 5 at 2:56
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    At a lot of places the premise of the internship is the same as that of a probationary period. Seems like it it would be overkill have both. – pip install Monica Aug 5 at 13:23
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Certainly prefer emailing the HR person instead of the interviewer.

Even if you don't have a copy of the contract, you should ask any questions regarding the offer that you have to the HR.

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In many cases the probationary period can last for months or even years. During that period the employer can fire you without a lot of documentation and with only a limited obligation for severance. During the probationary period the employee when leaving has only a very limited or even nonexistent notice period.

In some cases these rules are defined by local labor laws, in other cases they are defined by the contract.

It's for 4 months of paid internship.

It is likely that the probationary period is the entire length of the internship. That means that either side can terminate the working arrangement.

If there's no probation period, am I obliged to stay for the whole 4 months internship?

The actual contract for that sort of arrangement is generally not signed until the first day. While you can ask about the contract, and you can ask about the specific terms; too many questions about the procedure for quitting will likely cause them concern.

  • The OP already received a contract. Why do you think that "The actual contract for that sort of arrangement is generally not signed until the first day."? That isn't how things work in Europe, there that would be part of the contract before you start. Also, in my country (Netherlands), probation periods are limited by law. Putting a too long probation period in a contract effectively means there is no probation period. – Mark Rotteveel Aug 5 at 13:16
  • The OP received an offer letter, they didn't receive the contract. I have always had many more documents to sign on the first day of work. These documents go far beyond the basic information in an offer letter. – mhoran_psprep Aug 5 at 13:32
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    In my country, you sign the contract weeks (sometimes even months) before you start working somewhere. You don't sign contracts the day you start working somewhere. However, the case of the OP may be different. – Mark Rotteveel Aug 5 at 13:35
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The purpose of a probationary period is for the company to ensure they haven't made a bad choice, before it becomes difficult to remove you. This is particularly common in the UK at medium-large businesses, for permanent contracts.

After a probation period, most companies policy involves multiple stages of goal-settings and performance plans; rather than trying to fire you on the spot (this is in part due to UK law on labor rights).

As such, if they realize a problem early - it is in their interest to end the employment instantly, rather than go through a prolonged (potentially longer than a year) process of writing you up, tracking your failings and firing you - all while being careful not to accused of wrongful termination.


For an internship, and also for many fixed-term contracts (especially if under 1 year length), as there is no risk of the business being stuck with you long-term - it's rare that they include probation periods.

Often the termination clauses in these contracts, is similar to probation in the first place, but even when it isn't - the worst case for the business is they simply pay you till the end of your contract. There's simply not the same risk of getting stuck in a quagmire of HR policy and legal obligation, as for a permanent role.


So to answer directly;

For an internship, this is expected. Just accept the contract if you're happy with it. If they wanted a probation period - they should have written one into the contract.

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