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Probation - Support, Review & Guidance Procedure for Employees Serving a Probationary Period

 

Probation - Support, Review & Guidance Procedure for Employees Serving a Probationary Period| pdf(83.4 kb)

Probation Form (Academic)| word(307 kb)

Probation Form (Professional Services)| word(305 kb)

 

Go to a specific section:

1.Introduction|

2. Scope|

3. Purpose|

4. Mentor/Adviser|

5. Duties and Responsibilities|

6. Operation of the Procedure|

7. Following Confirmation of Appointment|

8. Appeal Process|

 

 

1. Introduction

It is important that during the early stages of a new employee’s appointment they are given a sufficient level of support and guidance to enable them to become an effective member of staff and for them to understand what is expected of them. It is also important for the employee to receive adequate and timely feedback so that when necessary, they may modify their performance, to meet the required standard to enable their employment to be confirmed. This policy sets out some guidelines which should be followed in order for this to be achieved, and lays down what is expected of new employees and their line managers.

There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled before a recommendation to confirm the employment can be made. These include the submission of copies of qualifications, the return of a signed contract of employment, proof of eligibility to work in the UK, and the completion and return of a medical questionnaire.
Refusal by any parties involved to co-operate with any part of this procedure will be treated as a serious matter and dealt with under the university’s disciplinary policy.

 

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2. Scope

This procedure applies to all staff who are serving a probationary period. The length of the probationary period will be stated in the contract of employment and will be as follows:

 

Bank / Ancillary Staff 6 months*
Manual Staff and Craft Workers 6 months
APT&C Staff grades 1-6 6 months
Fixed term Research Staff 6 months
Academic and Academic Related Staff 12 months
Senior Management 12 months
APT&C staff grades SO – PO 12 months

 

*When a member of staff employed on a bank/ancillary contract has not worked for a sufficient amount of time during this period, this may be varied in conjunction with the line manager and Personnel Officer.

A probationary period may also be extended in the event of long term absence from work to allow sufficient time for the employee to develop and for performance to be monitored.

In addition, when an existing member of staff has been appointed to a more senior role it is good practice to follow the principles of good support and early feedback outlined in this policy.

 

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3. Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that new employees:

a) Are provided with the supportive environment necessary to ensure that they are able to undertake a full and active role within the University.

b) Understand the standards that are required by the University and the vision and values of the University.

c) Are made aware at the earliest opportunity of any areas of their performance which need addressing and given help in how to meet the required level of performance.

d) Are made aware at the earliest opportunity of any factors which may lead to their failing to satisfactorily complete their probationary period.

e) Are provided with a fair and equitable procedure in cases where there is the possibility of termination of employment.

 

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4. Mentor/Adviser 

It is recommended that new members of staff are assigned a mentor or probation adviser to give them guidance and support during the early stages of their employment. The mentor should be an experienced member of staff, who is not in the direct line of supervision, but knows a sufficient amount about the job and responsibilities of the new employee. The role that the mentor takes may vary from a formal, structured programme to one of an informal “buddy” or coaching system. The use of a mentor can be key in communicating “softer” matters such as the culture of an organisation, rather than to offer expertise about the job, or technical know how.

Guidance notes on the role of the mentor are available from the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

 

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5. Duties and Responsibilities

Care should be taken when determining the duties and responsibilities of a new employee, to allow them time to adjust to and familiarise themselves with the new environment and culture of the University, and not to set unrealistic goals, targets or workloads.

Consideration should be given to lecturers who are new to the teaching profession in terms of teaching load and administrative duties, and these should be appropriate for standing and experience. Formal teaching responsibilities should be light in the first year to enable new lecturers to fully develop their teaching skills, methods and materials.

Newly appointed senior managers are required to attend appropriate modules (as identified by their line manager within the first few months of employment) of the management and leadership programme in operation at DMU during their probationary period.

 

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6. Operation of the Procedure

An overview of the following procedure is contained diagrammatically in appendix 1|pdf(16.4 kb)

6.1 Review Meetings and Reports

 

6.1.1 Informal Progress Meetings

Line managers are required to maintain regular contact with new employees during the probationary period. This should include informal meetings where progress is discussed, as well as formal review meetings held at specified intervals. It is advised that informal progress meetings should be held on a monthly basis for support staff and on a 3 monthly basis for academic staff and senior managers throughout the probationary period. The employee and line manager should discuss the employee’s performance, highlighting both the positive aspects and any areas that may need improvement. In cases of under performance employees should be given the opportunity and guidance on how to improve, and made aware of the implications if improvements are not made.

It is important that contact between line manager and employee does not lapse for long periods. In the event of an employee’s non-attendance at informal progress meetings without good reason, a formal review meeting should be arranged (see 6.1.3|). Once the formal stages of this procedure are evoked non-confirmation of the appointment may be a possible outcome.

Although these meetings should be informal, the probation report form may form the basis for discussion, focussing upon the criteria listed. Brief written notes of the meeting will be made by the line manager and shared with the employee.

Please see appendix 2| pdf(18.5 kb) for guidance notes on how to conduct a progress/review meeting.

 

6.1.2 Formal Interim Review Meeting

An interim probationary report form should be completed by the line manager after 3 months in the case of manual staff, support staff grades 1-6 and fixed term research staff and after 6 months for support staff grades SO – PO, academic staff and senior managers. The line manager and employee will need to have a formal review meeting in order for this to happen. Please see appendix 3| pdf(11.1 kb) for a chart setting out timescales for the completion of probationary reports.

Employees have the right to be accompanied at all formal meetings held throughout the procedure by a trade union representative or workplace colleague. Line managers may also choose to have their HR Adviser present.

A set of blank probationary report forms will be sent out to the line manager from the Human Resources Team upon the appointment of a new member of staff. Extra copies can be downloaded from the intranet when needed. It is the responsibility of the line manager to complete and return the form to Human Resources within the specified timescales.

The completed interim report should indicate either:

• That the individual’s performance and capability are satisfactory, and recommend that the appointment be confirmed if performance continues at this level.

• Or indicate areas for improvement which need to be rectified before a recommendation to complete the probationary period can be made.

• Or recommend that the appointment be terminated.

In the case where the interim report is satisfactory, it should be returned by the line manager to the Human Resources Team to be placed on the personal file. Where the report does not recommend that employment should be confirmed the line manager should take advice from their HR Adviser on how to proceed at the earliest opportunity, before returning the form. They should also discuss the case with their Head of Department and/or Dean/Director.

In cases of under performance employees should be given the opportunity and guidance on how to improve and made aware of the implications if improvements are not made. A formal plan of action and criteria for improvement should be agreed with the employee. The line manager will make written notes of the meeting, share these with the employee and subsequently place a copy on their personal file.

If it becomes apparent that the probationary period is unlikely to be confirmed, the University will ensure that the employee is assisted in looking for alternative suitable employment within the University, where possible.

Refusal or failure to attend a formal review meeting without good reason will be treated as a serious matter. In this event, the review meeting will take place without the employee being present. In the event of an employee being unable to attend a review meeting due to illness or other good reason, the meeting should be rescheduled.

 

6.1.3 Summary/Concluding Review Meeting

A final report should be completed by the line manager after 5 months in the case of manual staff, support staff grades 1-6 and fixed term research staff and 9 months in the case of support staff grades SO – PO, academic staff and senior managers. The line manager and employee will need to have a formal review meeting in order for this to happen. Please see appendix 3| pdf(11.1 kb) for a chart setting out timescales for the completion of probationary reports. It is the responsibility of the line manager to complete and return the form to Human Resources within the specified timescales.

Employees have the right to be accompanied at all formal meetings held throughout the procedure by a trade union representative or workplace colleague. Line managers may also choose to have their HR Adviser present.

This report should indicate either:

• that the individual’s performance and capability are satisfactory and recommend that the probationary period is completed, (see section 6.2|).

• or if the required improvements in performance have not been made, or performance levels have fallen, the report should recommend an extension to the probationary period when it is thought that the employee may still be able to improve their performance, given a further period of time. An extension to a probationary period should be for between 1 and 3 months for support staff grades 1-6 and between 3 and 6 months for support staff grades SO-PO, academic staff and senior managers. This should be discussed with the HR Adviser at the earliest opportunity (see section 6.3|).

• where there have been no improvements in performance in the period between the interim and summary/concluding review meeting, and the line manager deems the extent of the under performance to be unsatisfactory, the final report should recommend that the probationary period is not confirmed, and that the appointment is terminated (see section 6.4|).

In cases of under performance it is important that employees have been given reasonable opportunity and guidance on how to improve and made aware throughout the procedure of the implications if improvements are not made. Detailed written notes of the meeting will be made by the line manager, shared with the employee and subsequently kept on their personal file.

6.2 Confirmation of the Probationary Period

The final report should be completed by the line manager, approved by their Head of Department and Dean, and forwarded to the Human Resources Team. The Human Resources Team will send a letter confirming the appointment to the employee’s line manager who will then meet with the individual to hand over the letter in person.

6.3 Extension to, or Non-Confirmation of the Probationary Period

When the summary/concluding review meeting is to inform the member of staff of an extension to or non-confirmation of their probationary period they should be reminded of their right to be accompanied at the meeting by a trade union representative or workplace colleague.

At the review meeting the member of staff (and their representative), their line manager and a representative of the Human Resources Team will be present. The line manager will inform the individual of the position and the reasons for the recommendation. The individual will have the opportunity to present his/her case.

The meeting will then be adjourned whilst the line manger seeks advice from the HR Adviser. A decision will then be made either not to confirm the appointment or to extend the probationary period. The meeting with then be reconvened and this decision will be communicated to the employee. When extending a period of probation, it is important that employees are made aware of the implications if improvements are not made.

 

6.3.1 Training Plan and Targets for Improvements

When a probationary period is to be extended, there should be a formal programme of action and criteria for improvement. This should be discussed with the employee. The period of extension and date of the next formal review, will be confirmed in writing to the individual, by the line manager. A copy will be forwarded to the Human Resources Team, to be placed on the individual’s personal file.

6.4 Notification of Dismissal

Following the meeting, the decision made will be confirmed to the individual in writing with the appropriate period of notice. The individual will also be informed whether the notice is required to be worked or whether payment in lieu of notice shall be given.

 

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7. Following Confirmation of Appointment

Once the probationary period has been confirmed, the appropriate review schemes will apply as follows:

Senior Management - MAX Performance Review
Academic - Academic Appraisal Scheme
APT&C - Staff Development Review
Manual & Craft - Staff Development Review

 

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8. Appeal Process

8.1 Appeal in Writing

Where a decision is made to terminate the employment, an individual will be able to submit an appeal against this decision in writing to the Director of Human Resources within 7 working days. The grounds for the appeal should be stated.

8.2 Appeal Hearing

An appeal hearing will be conducted where the member of staff will present their case to an appeals panel. They may be accompanied at the hearing by their trade union representative or workplace colleague. The line manager will be also be present to present the management case.

 The appeals panel will consist of a Pro Vice Chancellor and another member of the University’s senior executive who has not previously been involved in the case. The appeals panel may either:-

• Overturn the decision not to confirm the appointment.

• Extend the probationary period by a maximum of 3 months for support staff grades 1-6 and 6 months for support staff grades SO-PO, academic staff and senior management.

• Confirm the decision to terminate the employment.

In the event of dismissal the effective date of dismissal will be the date the decision is communicated to the employee following the hearing.

Either party to this Agreement may initiate a review of its contents by placing a formal request on the agenda for the JNC. Should either party to this Agreement wish to terminate the Agreement, four months notice in writing shall be given to the other party and good cause must be shown.

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Appendix 1 - Overview of Procedure for Employees Following a Probationary Period| pdf(16.4 kb)

Appendix 2 - Guidance Notes for Conducting a Progress/Review Meeting| pdf(18.5 kb)

Appendix 3 - Timescales for Completion of Probationary Report Forms| pdf(11.1 kb)

Appendix 4 - Template of a letter to Line Manger| pdf(11.2 kb)

 
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