Probation Review

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Friday, Mar 01, 2024

After hiring a new employee, you need to allow time for them to settle into their new role and company. This is called the probationary period. A probation review allows an employer to discuss their new employee’s performance during this period. It can also help identify any areas where the employee requires support.

Ultimately, you should advise the employee on whether they have passed or failed their probation.

There are various ways to conduct a probation review and it is important that all employers conduct these reviews.

In this guide, we’ll explain what a probation review is, how to prepare for one, and what you need to know.

What is a Probation Review?

A probation review (also known as a probation period performance review) is a formal meeting used to determine if a new employee will be kept permanently or alternatively, let go.

There is no set process when conducting a probation review. However, it usually involves meeting with the probationary employee’s manager or supervisor who can attest to their performance.

Why are Probation Reviews Important?

Probation reviews are an opportunity for you to discuss the employee’s performance and fit in your company. Completing a probation review will allow you to assess the employee’s progress and set up new targets after settling in. It is important that you provide the employee feedback and encourage the employee to provide feedback for you.

This also gives you the chance to provide any support the employee needs after the probationary period.

How to Prepare for a Probation Review

To get the most out of a probationary meeting, you must prepare for it. This means reviewing the employee’s work, their general performance, and areas of improvement. You can also ask colleagues about the employee’s performance and how they fit within the workplace culture.

You need to inform the employee of the date and time of the probation review to ensure their availability does not conflict with any other priorities. You should also select the managers or supervisors conducting the review.

It is important that you obtain all the necessary information regarding the employee prior to the meeting to help determine the success of their probation.

You should also have the employee fill out a probation review form. The review form is designed to ensure certain job functions are checked and completed before moving into a permanent position.

How to Write a Probation Review

Probation reviews are generally face-to-face meetings. However, it is important to write down any questions or comments you have prior to the probation review. You should also write down questions that you intend to ask.

A probation review meeting should contain open-ended questions. Typical questions may include:

  • What are you proudest of during your first few months here?
  • Do you have any concerns about your job?
  • What goals would you like to achieve in the next 6 months?
  • Has anything negatively impacted your performance during the probation period?

Are Probation Period Reviews Mandatory?

Although you are not legally required to hold a probation review, there are many benefits of conducting one. Some benefits of conducting a probation review include:

  • Assessing the employee fit in the workplace culture.
  • Identifying any shortcomings in your onboarding process.
  • Exposing any issues in your management.
  • Establishing training and support programs if needed.

For example, if you have concerns about their probationary period, now is the chance to address them through constructive feedback. The employer can then implement support measures to ensure their success in the future.

What Happens at the End of the Probation Review?

At the end of the probation review, you should have informed the employee on whether they have successfully passed or not. You can reward the employee with a raise in pay or other compensation, such as a one-time bonus.

Alternatively, and less commonly, the employee may have failed their probation. There can be numerous factors that could contribute to an employee failing their probation. Some examples include the following:

  • Inadequate Performance: Almost all employers want their employees to meet their targets and confidently complete their job duties. When probationary employees fail to meet their targets or underperform, this could be a great concern.
  • Absenteeism: It is important that employees arrive for their shifts on time. Probationary employees who are often absent or late to work are less likely to be trusted meaning it’s unlikely that they will pass probation.
  • Further Evaluation: Sometimes, a probationary employee needs more time to refine their skills to do the job correctly. Employers may extend a probationary period if it is contemplated in the employment contract. This allows for further evaluation of their fit within your business.

Employers must identify the issues that contribute to employees failing their probationary periods. You should work with the employees to rectify them. Immediate dismissal without investigation, especially if there are disability concerns, may give rise to a human rights complaint made against you.

What Happens if an Employee Fails the Probationary Period?

It is commonly understood that if an employee fails their probationary period, the employment will be terminated and the employee would not be entitled to notice or pay in lieu of notice; however, this is not always the case.

Employment standard legislation require employers to give employees notice upon termination or pay in lieu thereof. An employer may still be required to provide notice or termination pay if the probationary employee worked a certain amount of time for the employer.

For example, in Ontario, if an employee is terminated after their six-month probation, the employer is still required to provide the employee one weeks’ notice or pay in lieu thereof under the Employment Standards Act.

Alternatively, some employers may extend the probationary period as previously mentioned. This is commonly done when a probationary employee fails to meet sales targets or underperforms.

If you do extend the probationary period for an employee, you should state the reasons why and the length of the extension. You should also send written notification to the employee about the extension and the particulars that gave rise to it. Lastly, you should obtain the employee’s expressed consent to extend the probationary period if it is not in the employment contract.

Get Advice on Probation Reviews with BrightHR

Done right, a probation review is a chance for employers to evaluate probationary employees and their fit within the business.

You should always keep written records and retain evidence, should you ever need them. It’s important to listen to any concerns the new employee has about your company and address them professionally.

If you need assistance with conducting probation reviews or implementing a probation review process, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.

Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.

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