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I just finished the probation period at my new job and everything seems OK. However, there is no interest in following the procedure to effectively finish my probation period, it's all up in the air. And there are jokes about extending my probation period. However, I don't find this amusing: during this period I have only 7 days notice, no holidays and no sick days. If in one month they tell me "we are detracting these sick days/we are giving you 7 days notice because we extended your probation", what can I do?

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    Marv, my contract says both that I have to officially pass it and that the period has a duration of 3 months. – user32664 Jun 2 '15 at 16:23
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In the UK it is common, in my experience, that probation ends when you are formally notified that it has ended (not when the "probation period" has passed), though that is determined by the Contract of Employment. As others here have said, if the contract defines that probation ends automatically on expiry of the probation period then that is when it ends. However I have only ever seen contracts that state it ends when that is confirmed by the employer.

In any case it is perfectly reasonable for you to ask why probation has not completed if the probation period has ended as the company should either:

  • Extend the probation period or
  • End probation or
  • Terminate employment under the probation terms

If probation has not formally ended the company may extend probation indefinitely, though I suspect there are HR practises and guidelines, if not actual laws, that say they must tell you why and define the new duration.

In the past I have extended probation where it has not been clear that the employee has definitely met the basic criteria for joining the team/company on a non-probation basis. In that case I always explain the situation, including what needs to be improved or changed, and define the new probation period duration.

Prior to the end of the extended probation I have:

  • Terminated
  • Ended probation and welcomed the employee on a full basis
  • Extended the probation again with yet another meeting to discuss why

All these things are possible and allowed in the UK. Talk to your manager and HR if necessary, you should not be left dangling, that is unfair.

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    Good Answer Darth Mills (sorry couldn't help read your profile) – Dansmith Jun 2 '15 at 14:38
  • Thanks :) Not getting the 'Darth' reference though? :) EDIT: Oh yeah, I get it now :) – Marv Mills Jun 2 '15 at 14:41
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    "dark side" - implies star wars darth would imply a jedi who joined the dark side. @marv-mills – Dansmith Jun 2 '15 at 14:46
  • This answer should be deleted/amended since it is wrong. Ben's answer is the correct one: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/47615/14577 – Stephan Branczyk Jun 28 at 20:12
  • @Stephen Branczyk “wrong” is a bit harsh- I merely relayed my own experience, I did at no point in the answer make a generalisation as to the law in these matters. All contracts I have seen and been involved with require the employer to confirm cessation of the probation period. I at no point said that was the only way these things can play out. If the OPs contract does not allow extension of probation, or ends after a fixed term then my answer would not apply. – Marv Mills Jun 29 at 14:24
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All employees must have a contract. You should also have a written statement of employment particulars if you've been employed for 2 months. This statement should cover everything in your question. If you don't have one after 2 months your employer is breaking the law. Read your contract.


tl;dr In order:

  1. Read your contract
  2. Contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau
  3. Talk to your employer - you may be misinterpreting things
  4. Contact an employment lawyer

Probation Period

There is no such thing as a probationary period under UK law1, 2, 3; there is a commonly used convention called a probationary period. During this period the terms of your contract of employment may differ to what they will be once it's ended.

Everything about your probationary period should be in your contract.

  • If your contract states that your probationary period will end after 3 months then it will end, no matter what your employer says
  • If there is no term-limit to the period then you can be "on probation" indefinitely

Marv's answer is not strictly accurate; your probationary period ends when your contract says it does.

As your probationary period is defined solely in the contract of employment you signed with your employer there's no guarantees that your situation will actually be better once the term has ended.

To quote from the Citizen's Advice Bureau - this is a large quote but it's highly pertinent.

Probationary periods

It is common for employers to treat new employees as being in a ‘probationary’ period when they first start work. The employer may then argue that you can be dismissed while you are in this probationary period with no warning (notice). Employers also often argue that employees do not have usual employment rights to, for example, pay or holidays, during this ‘probationary’ period.

There is no such thing in law as a ‘probationary’ period. Once you have started work, the number of weeks you have worked begin on the day you start, not from some time when a ‘probationary’ period is over. Your full contractual rights also start from the first day of work, unless your contract says otherwise.

Your contract could, however, contain terms which only apply during your probationary period and which are less favourable than those which apply when your probationary period has ended. These terms must not take away your statutory rights.

Your employer can extend your probationary period, as long as your contract says they can do this. For example, your employer may want to extend your probationary period in order to have more time to assess your performance. However, they can only do this if your contract has a term which says your probationary period can be extended under these circumstances.

It's worth noting that MLP Law, in it's advice to employers, states that:

Any extension must be confirmed to the employee before expiry of the initial probationary period. Again, this is to avoid the risk of the employee passing their probationary period by default.

This seems to be a legal opinion rather than the actual law.

Holiday Pay

As far as I'm aware (IANAL) your employer is breaking the law by denying you holiday pay.

Your are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year (or more if it is in your contract). Paid holiday accrues as you work. If you've worked for your employer for 3 months you are legally entitled to 1/4 of your holiday allowance. Note that some of your entitlement may have been accrued in the previous year, depending on when the holiday year starts. Your employer is not obliged to allow you to carry this over.

The Citizen's Advice Bureau has a lot of information as well.

Sick Pay

You are probably entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). There are no restrictions on length of service under 8 weeks. There may, however, be other restrictions related to your employer which mean your employer does not have to pay you. If your employer does not have to pay you SSP then "you may qualify for Employment and Support Allowance instead".

Your contract may also provide you with enhanced sick pay or additional rights, once again you need to read it.

  • I've ended up having that sentence in the wrong place after rewriting @Marv. You did write "Probation ends when you are formally notified that it has ended", which is incorrect. Depending on the contract you may be correct; you may not. I've updated my answer to reflect this. – Ben Jun 3 '15 at 14:25
  • Although there is no probation period you have reduced protection for unfair dismissal in the first 2 years in the UK - so you could regard the 2 years as probation in that they can more easily decide to get rid of you. – NobodySpecial Jun 4 '15 at 0:36
  • The absolute minimum contractual notice period is less if you've been there less than 2 years as opposed to greater @NobodySpecial. I have no idea where you're getting "reduced protection" from - unfair dismissal is still unfair dismissal and you can take your (ex)-employer to an employment tribunal however long you've been working for them. – Ben Jun 4 '15 at 5:49
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    This is a much better answer than the accepted one. And yes, you are entitled to both holiday pay and sick pay regardless of probationary status. The core purpose of probation is to ensure you're minimally competent at your job, that you turn up on time and that you're not a complete weirdo. That's it, really. – PrometheanVigil Apr 26 '17 at 13:46

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