It is common – and acceptable – to have a probationary or trial period for a new employee. Probationary periods are used to test whether the candidate selection process was correct and whether the new employee is adjusting well to the role and team. If you have a probationary period it is important to set out in the letter of confirmation that employment will depend on successful completion of this period.

The length of the probationary period will depend on the complexity of the job on offer: more complex roles have longer probationary periods. The time spent in the probationary period should be carefully structured and should also include a formal assessment, after which the new employee should receive official confirmation that it has been successfully completed.

Where the new employee’s performance in the probationary period is unsatisfactory, a decision needs to be made whether to extend the probationary period or to terminate employment.