Checklist for Line Managers with staff on a probationary contract

As the line manager of a new entrant on a probationary contract:

  • Do you know that new entrants are given a probationary contract for up to 12 months to allow you to comprehensively assess whether they are suitable to stay in your department/office permanently?
  • Do you know that you have primary responsibility for the induction and management of the probationary period of a new staff member?
  • Are you clear on the review cycle for a staff member on probation and of the aspects of performance you will be assessing?
  • Do you know that probationary contracts should not be extended? (Contracts can be suspended only to allow staff members to take statutory leave entitlements (e.g parental, maternity and carer’s leave).)

Before the new entrant commences work:

  • Have you read the Department’s/Office’s induction policy and procedures?
  • Have you put in place a formal plan for the induction of the new entrant?
  • Have you drafted a preliminary role profile form for the new entrant? (In order to meaningfully assess their suitability, new entrants must be given a job which allows them to display the skills and competencies commensurate with their grade.)
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the probationary review cycle and the relevant review forms for the new entrant on a probationary contract?;

Once the new entrant has started work:

  • Has the new entrant been given a date for formal induction training?
  • Have you satisfied yourself that your new entrant has a clear understanding of the terms and nature of their probationary contract?
  • Have you clarified the role and duties and agreed a draft role profile form with the new entrant?
  • Have you identified and made arrangements for formal or on the job training required?
  • Have you carried out at least three probationary reviews with the jobholder during the first 9 months of the probationary period?
  • Have you kept written records of all meetings, signed by you and your new entrant?

By month 9 of the probationary contract:

  • Have you held the final review? (ie third probationary review);
  • Have you made a recommendation to the HR unit to confirm or terminate the contract based on the performance reviews?

In assessing the performance of the jobholder during the period of the probationary contract:

  • Do you give regular constructive feedback to the new entrant?
  • Are you satisfied that performance in relation to the standard/output of work is satisfactory?
  • Are you satisfied that attendance, punctuality, sick leave and general conduct are good?

Where you are NOT SATISFIED with the performance of the new entrant during the period of the probationary contract you should:

  • liaise with HR Unit, as soon as you become aware of an issue to seek advice on how best to address the issue.
  • ensure that the probationer is made aware of the specific issue each time a difficulty arises (e.g. each unsatisfactory action, each example of poor performance, each sick day) and its potential impact on their probation. Each meeting should be documented.
  • In addition to raising the specific issue, hold a formal review meeting every 3 months.
  • NOT EXTEND the contract beyond 12 months to allow for improvements in performance. The possibility of an extension for this purpose should not arise where managers are proactive in managing performance from the beginning of the probationary period;
  • Terminate the contract during the course of the year rather than waiting for the probationary contract to expire if there are serious issues of concern.