What is a Probation Period?
There is no such thing in law as a ‘probationary’ period. The probation period has no bearing on your legal rights. It is a term of your contract when you start a new job and allows you to decide whether you like the role and allows your employer to see whether you are suitable for the job. The probation period is only important because you would usually not have been working with your employer for two years and so would not have accrued the right to sue for unfair dismissal. This is what impacts on your rights, and not the fact that you are in a period of probation.
Employers are under the very mistaken impression that employees can be treated unfairly because they are on probation. This is not the case. The right not to be unfairly dismissed is only ONE right. You have several other rights that if breached will give you the right to sue for compensation in an employment tribunal.
Automatically Unfair Dismissal
As an employee, you have some unfair dismissal rights which exist regardless of how long you have been employed for. If your employer breaches any of these rights, you would have been automatically unfairly dismissed, and have the right to sue for unfair dismissal just as if you had two years’ service.
Health and Safety
Your employer is under a duty to take reasonable care of your health and safety at work. Your employer has to exercise due care and skill in four particular areas;
- Provide competent staff
- Provide adequate plant and equipment
- Provide a safe system of work, and
- Provide safe premises
If your employer breaches these obligations you will have a claim for compensation in the employment tribunal. You have these rights from day one of your employment, and you don't need two years’ service. Note that bullying and harassment is also a health and safety concern because your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe place to work.
You are protected from discrimination at work under the Equality Act 2010. This protection extends to all aspects of your employment including dismissal, terms and conditions of employment, pay and benefits, promotion and transfer opportunities, training, recruitment and redundancy. There is no qualifying period of employment for a discrimination claim, so you don’t need to have worked for two years before submitting a claim for compensation to the Employment Tribunal.
Breach of Contract
Your employment contract is a document in which you and your employer agree on the work that you are going to do, how you will do it and when. Your employer agrees to pay you an amount of money in exchange for the agreed work. You have a number of rights given to you by statute, but the basic relationship between you and your employer is covered by the terms and conditions of the employment contract. Your employment contract also contains implied terms. The main one is the duty on your employer not to act in a way so as to breach the duty of mutual trust and confidence. You can take action for wrongful dismissal in the employment tribunal, county court or high court if your employer breaches the terms of your employment contract. Dismissing you without going through the right procedure would be a breach of contract if the disciplinary process is part of your employment contract. Invariably, if your employer dismisses you without going through due process it would be a breach of the duty of trust and confidence. You do not need two years’ service to sue for wrongful dismissal. You have this right from day one of employment.
If you "blow the whistle" on your employer by making a protected disclosure , you have the legal right not to be dismissed, selected for redundancy or subjected to any other detriment. You do not need two years’ service for this because dismissal for whistleblowing is an automatically unfair dismissal.
If you are unfortunate enough to be injured at work, you can make a Personal Injury claim for compensation. Stress at work which causes you to become ill is a personal injury. Accidents do happen in any job and in any situation. They are not limited to factories and building sites; every workplace has its own dangers. Your employer has a duty to protect you from injury at work and tell you about any health and safety issues that affect you. You can make a personal injury claim as part of a discrimination claim.
Last Updated: [25/02/2022]