Posts Tagged ‘Probation’

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: How can I fairly let an employee go during probation when they are clearly not working out?

A: There are a few steps you need to take before you notify an employee that their employment will be terminated fairly.

  • Firstly, clearly outline the issues you are having with the new employee. Is it performance, conduct, behaviour, timekeeping or something else that is proving a problem and is prompting you to question if they are a good fit.
  • Secondly, once you are clear that there is an issue, and you understand fully what it is – avoid making a long list of everything. You need to be fair, it needs to be reasonable, and you need to sit down and discuss it with the individual – so be realistic.
  • Ensure the employee is familiar with the probation management process – how you will engage with them during that period and how you will raise any issues or matters that need to be address.
  • Invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue – clearly set out what it is, when it happened, give a copy of the probation policy, grievance policy, disciplinary policy and maybe even the equality policy. This is not a disciplinary meeting so you don’t have to extend to them the opportunity to attend with a colleague or representation, at this stage it is an internal matter that is directly between the manager and the employee.
  • At the meeting discuss the issue at hand, what it is, the impact it is having on the business/team, what it is you want them to do about it – agree a corrective action or a PIP performance improvement plan. Give them very clear outlined guidelines of what it is you need them to do and the time frame and the standard that they need to achieve etc. It’s also important that you tell them the sanction of their performance or conduct or timekeeping etc improving, so they should be clear at the end of the meeting what it is you need them to do, by when, the quality and what next steps will be if that is not achieved. You may need to consider further training, on the job coaching,  or some other kind of intervention that is reasonable in assisting the new employee reach the required standard at this early stage of their employment.
  • If the problem continues then you may need to call them to a disciplinary meeting, or you may need to hold an investigation etc. If you are inviting them to a disciplinary meeting, ensure you follow good practice and your company policy – don’t skip stages that you have in your policy – due process is really important. Document everything, make sure the employee knows exactly what it is you will be speaking to them, allow them the opportunity to bring a colleague or a representative to the meeting, give them every opportunity to express their views, to account for themselves, etc. Don’t pass judgement until you have allowed them the opportunity to speak and put forward their side. You may need to get someone neutral to conduct an investigation if it’s not possible to assess the accuracy or exact circumstances that have taken place – remember disciplinary action or dismissal is a serious matter and it should not be taken lightly.
  • Once you know the outcome of the disciplinary meeting or the investigation, decide on the appropriate course of action that is proportionate to the incident. It could be that you decide to give them a new project to work on from start to finish, or you clarify the expected timekeeping, or you outline appropriate conduct etc. Give the individual an reasonable time to prove themselves and to correct the matter.
  • If it continues, then use your policy to manage it – but don’t rush to dismiss, as it might be considered unfair. Follow you policy, give them a chance to appeal your decision if necessary and make sure you have someone in an objective position there to hear the appeal and reach an appropriate decision.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Can I let my new hire go during their probation period if they aren’t working out?

A: It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. Employers need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures throughout the probationary period.

Employee with less than one years’ service are not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts, however, they are covered by the Industrial Relations Act, and The Employment Equality Acts and may pursue a claim through these avenues if they feel a dismissal was wrongful or in breach of their equality rights.

Q: How long should a probation period be?

A: Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months.

It is crucial that you have the correct procedures in place for managing the probation period and that probation is clearly outlined in the contract of employment.

Q: What can I do to make sure I successfully manage the probation period?

A: Make sure you have regular review points with the new employee during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards. Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations. Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires so that they fully understand it from the outset.

For further advice or information on company policies, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Managing the Probation Period

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Most permanent contracts of employment provide for a probationary period, usually of six months in duration. The purpose of the probation period is to allow the employer a fixed period of time to evaluate the suitability of the new employee for their role based on performance and behaviour.

Probation periods can often be misunderstood, especially when it comes to the need to terminate employment during the probationary, or extended probationary, period – termination during this period remains a tricky subject for employers.

It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. However, employers do need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures.

Employee with less than one years’ service are not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015, however, they are covered by the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 (as amended) and The Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2011 and may pursue a claim through these avenues if they feel a dismissal was wrongful or in breach of their equality rights.

Key points for successful probation management:

  • Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires
  • Ensure you have clearly set out the length of time for the probation period and that the probation can be extended, and for how long.
  • Include in the contract that employment is subject to a probation period, how long and how long it can be extended by.
  • Have procedures on how you will manage issues during the probation period – specifying that you will implement an abridged version of your disciplinary procedures during this period or have a separate probation procedure.
  • Have regular review points during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards.
  • Whatever your defined procedures are, ensure you apply and follow them fairly during the probation period, this may well come under scrutiny if it is being looked at by the Courts. The Labour Court has awarded damages to the employee due lack of fair process, even though the dismissal is deemed to be justified.
  • Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations.
  • Manage the probation process in a timely manner – if the period of probation passes and you have not confirmed anything with the employee, it may be too late to commence probation procedures a month or so after the probation end date.

Length of the probation period

Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months. For certain employment types, that may require a longer period of training or assessment, the initial probation period can be for 9 months with an option to extend by a further 2 months. Equally, for roles that may require an employee to be effective more quickly, a shorter probation period could be implemented.

Care should be taken where the period of probation, or extended probation, is longer than six months as, once contractual notice is added to the period of notice, dismissals in these cases could come within the scope of the Unfair Dismissals Acts and the employer may have to justify a dismissal under those Acts. Employees come under the protection of these acts once their 12 months’ service is completed.

Summary

It is crucial that you have the correct procedures in place for managing the probation period and that probation is clearly outlined in the contract of employment. Having a good starting point with clear expectations of what performance and conduct is required during this period, the support and training that will be provided and the mechanism that will be used to assess outcomes will make for easier resolution of issues, should they arise, at the point of review. In all cases where a dismissal occurs employers must ensure they give due regard to general principles of natural justice and provide employees with a fair process.

Get Help Managing Performance

We have developed a very practical workshop for managers on “Effective Management of the Probation Period” which just might be the toolkit you need to get a better outcome from your new employees. Contact us on 01 525 2914 or info@voltedge.ie to request some additional information on our range of services to help your performance management skills.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

 

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, February 13th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: I have a new employee who is on a 6-month probation – she is an administrator. She is not really working out -can I just give her 1 weeks’ notice and tell her to leave?

A: There is a pre-conceived notion that probation allows employers to terminate an employee who is on probation for little or no reason and that there is no come-back.

Unfortunately, this is not true, and we are seeing more and more cases (mainly brought under the discrimination legislation) where aggrieved ex-employees have said that they were not treated fairly during their probation period.

The golden rules are:

  • Have a clear probation clause in the contract, giving the option to extend probation up to a maximum of 11 months. The probation should allow for a one week notice period during the probation time.
  • Have a good job description so that the employee fully understands the job they are supposed to be doing.
  • Meet the employee at least every 2 weeks during the probation period to review how they are getting on, talk about any issues, clarify if the employee is not doing the work expected/or not doing the work well enough, and give them objectives to improve.
  • If the employee is not suitable, make sure that they understand that their probation performance is not reaching an acceptable level, and that they may not pass probation. When informing them that they are unsuccessful and that you are giving them notice, be very clear about the reasons and that you have supported them through the process.
  • And finally, treat the employee fairly and be supportive. This can be a challenging time for the employee, and with your support, most new employees will make the grade.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.