Probation (workplace)

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This article is about the status given to new employees of a business. For the punishment given to criminals, see Probation.

In a workplace setting, probation is a status given to new employees of a company or business. It is widely termed as the Probation Period of an employee. This status allows a supervisor or other company manager to evaluate closely the progress and skills of the newly hired worker, determine appropriate assignments, and monitor other aspects of the employee such as honesty, reliability, and interactions with co-workers, supervisors or customers.

A probationary period varies widely depending on the business, but can last anywhere from 30 days to several years. If the new employee shows promise and does well during the probationary time, they are usually removed from probationary status, and may be given a raise or promotion as well (in addition to other privileges, as defined by the business). Probation is usually defined in a company's employee handbook, which is given to workers when they first begin a job.

The probationary period also allows an employer to terminate an employee who is not doing well at their job or is otherwise deemed not suitable for a particular position. Whether or not this empowers employers to abuse their employees by, without warning, terminating their contract before the probation period has ended is open for debate. To avoid problems arising from the termination of a new employee, many companies are waiving the probationary period entirely, and instead conducting multiple interviews of the candidate, under a variety of conditions - before making the decision to hire.

Some companies may place permanent employees on probationary status, particularly if their performance is below a set standard or for disciplinary reasons. In this instance, the employee is usually given a period of time to either improve their performance or modify their behavior before more severe measures are taken. Similarly, students with unsatisfactory grades may also be placed on academic probation by their institution.

The placement of an employee on probationary status is usually at the discretion of their manager.

In relation to an Employment tribunal awarding an employee her case for unfair dismissal, the internet advises that charities should ensure they follow the Acas code, consult with the affected employee and take care to keep an open mind until the end of the process. Indeed, this advice is not always followed by employers during an employees probationary period.