Is it unfair to dismiss during a probationary period

02 August 2018

Employers often spend thousands on locating, interviewing and recruiting high calibre staff so a decision to dismiss is not one that is ever taken lightly. All too often however we see employees trying to issue claims believing they have acquired some form of special protection because the dismissal was during the probationary period.

Most employers these days will offer new employment subject to the completion of a successful probationary period – this can be anywhere between 3 – 6 months. In reality however an employee will only gain protection from unfair dismissal once they have been employed for more than two years (where the employment began after 6th April 2012 or one year if employment began before then).

What is the purpose of the probationary period? Generally speaking it allows the employer time to consider whether the employee is well, up to the job. As always all employees should be given every opportunity to prove themselves however if it transpires they are not the employment will either be terminated at the end of the probationary period or the probationary period may be extended.

If it becomes apparent during the probationary period that the employee is not working out can they still be dismissed? The simple answer is yes subject to a fair procedure being followed and with the employee not being discriminated against in anyway. Dismissing an employee for poor performance, if managed properly, does not have to be problematic in anyway. Unfortunately on most occasions employers fail to consider all the facts, the employees particular circumstances before making these decisions leading to tribunal claims.