The University recognises that a supportive and developmental probation process is vital in providing the appropriate level of support and training for new members of staff on commencement of their employment.
This policy sets out the University’s approach to probation for new members of staff, aiming to ensure the University meets its commitment to the fair, equal and consistent treatment of staff with regard to the probation period.
A probation procedure is available offering guidance on the implementation of the policy.
The relevant procedure should be read in conjunction with the policy.
2.1 This policy relates to all newly appointed staff, whose terms and conditions of employment state that their appointment is subject to a probationary period. This includes academic staff, support staff, teaching only staff and research only staff.
2.2 The length of the probation period will be stated in the terms and conditions of employment and is dependent on the skills and competencies required for the role. However, the length of probation period will normally be;
2.3 It will not normally be appropriate to apply probation to those members of staff who having satisfactorily completed a period of probation in one post are then transferred to another comparable post within a different department of the University, unless the new role is substantially different and requires a new range of skills and attributes. Similarly, it will not normally be appropriate for academic staff to serve a two-year probationary period, or indeed any staff member to undergo a probationary period, where it is deemed by the University that such a period of probation has been partly or wholly served elsewhere. Where this situation arises advice should be sought from HR.
2.4 In cases where a member of staff has been redeployed to another role within the University, a trial period will be a more appropriate method of ensuring that the redeployment is satisfactory to both the individual and the department. Where this situation arises advice should be sought from HR.
2.5 Staff on probation will not be subject to the performance review process until such time as their probation period is successfully completed.
The policy aims:
4.1 The University aims to secure equality of opportunity in all its activities, and in this respect, the probation process must be objective, clear, transparent and free from discrimination. Head of Departments / Line Managers are expected to have undertaken equal opportunities training; if in any doubt, the Head of Department / Line Manager should contact their HR adviser / partner for clarification or advice.
4.2 The probation process should work alongside the induction process to help create a positive and supportive working environment, allowing new staff to settle into the organisation and learn the key elements of the job within a reasonable and realistic timescale.
4.3 At their induction, new members of staff will be made aware by their line manager of the performance standards expected of them and will be given support, training and feedback necessary to achieve these standards. Line managers will use the probationary period to monitor the success of the new staff member in reaching those standards.
4.4 Clear, comprehensive and accurate records of probation review meetings must be maintained, including how standards are set, what methods are used for measuring them and what timescales are given for reaching them. A Probation Review Form is provided for this purpose and must be signed by the employee and his/her line manager at each review point to provide a formal record of the probationary period. Induction materials may be used to inform the initial probation review meeting i.e. to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the new employee in line with their terms and conditions of employment, their job description and the policies and procedures which must be followed .
4.5 In circumstances where problems arise during a period of probation, the line manager should raise these with the member of staff in a timely manner, and the member of staff must be given an opportunity to respond to any concerns. Line managers should discuss the action required by the member of staff to address the problem and where necessary give clear, unambiguous warnings if standards are not met. The manager should use the Probation Review Form to keep a record of the discussion and ensure that this is signed by both parties (i.e. the line manager and the employee).
4.6 Members of staff have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trades union representative at any formal meetings held to address serious performance issues that have arisen during probation and where dismissal is a possible outcome. This right will not apply in the case of informal discussions between the employee and line manager or at the normal 3, 6 or 9 monthly review meetings.
4.7 Documentation relating to staff will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and related documentation will be subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) as appropriate.
Application of the policy will be monitored by the Director of HR. This policy will be reviewed after a period of 4 years.
Approved by HR Policy Committee in October 2008 and by JNCC in February 2009
These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the University’s policy on probation. They have been produced to assist managers in the implementation of the policy for all new members of staff excluding academic staff, for whom there will be separate probation guidelines.
The University aims to ensure that the probation process is undertaken for all new employees and is applied in a fair and consistent manner.
A formal probation procedure helps to ensure that;
The length of the probation period will be stated in the terms and conditions of employment and is dependent on the skills and competencies required for the role. However, the length of probation period will normally be;
Any proposed extension to these probationary periods, either before or during the probationary period itself should be discussed with the Human Resources (HR) Manager, and should be in line with the guidance provided in section 8 of this procedure on Extending the probationary period.
When a new member of staff is appointed their line manager (manager) will receive a copy of their appointment letter and main statement of terms and conditions of employment.
The manager should ensure that an induction programme is in place prior to the commencement of the new employee. Standards and objectives should be set and be provided to the new employee to ensure that expectations regarding standards of work performance, conduct and attendance are clear to them on commencement of their role and that the appropriate support, training and guidance is in place. For further information, see the the University Induction Policy.
The manager should arrange a meeting with the new employee during their first week of employment to ensure they are aware of the standards required of them and that activities carried out during job induction may be used to document the employee’s performance during the probationary period.
At the initial meeting the manager should;
Managers should be sensitive to issues of equality and diversity and adapt their approach accordingly e.g. where an employee’s first language is not English, the manager should read the probation requirements to the employee and ensure that he/she has a clear understanding.
Throughout the probation period an employee’s performance and competence should be subject to assessment by their manager within a supportive and developmental context. Regular and informal one-to-one meetings should be held to review performance and to ensure that new members of staff are kept informed of their progress against the required standards; to advise them of any concerns and how these can be addressed; and to ensure staff are able to raise any questions they may have about their work performance or training requirements.
In addition to informal one to one meetings, formal, documented probation reviews are to be carried out as follows;
A Probation Review Form is provided for this purpose and must be signed by the employee and his/her line manager at the initial meeting and each subsequent review point to provide a formal record of the probationary period. A minimum of two formal reviews will take place during the probation period of every new member of staff.
HR Services will send reminders of formal review dates to Departments and it is the responsibility of the manager to carry these out in a timely fashion.
Departments will not be required to submit copies of Probation Review forms to HR Services where performance is deemed to be satisfactory. Departments will, however, be required to return Probation Review forms to HR Services in cases where difficulties have arisen during the probationary period. Non-reporting by Departments will result in the assumption that an employee’s probation period is progressing satisfactorily.
The purpose of the formal review meetings is to formally assess and document the standards of work performance, conduct and attendance of the employee against the targets set at the initial meeting and to identify any further support, training or guidance which is required.
Formal reviews should be set up in advance so that both parties have time to prepare for the meeting. Employees can be accompanied at these meetings by either a work colleague or a trades union representative if serious performance issues have been identified and dismissal is a possible outcome .
As part of the formal review meeting managers should;
It is a manager’s responsibility to ensure that a written record is kept of the initial meeting and subsequent review meetings. The Probation Review Form should be completed to record details of each meeting.
The form should be completed by the manager and signed by both parties (i.e. the manager and the employee) to confirm the discussion that has taken place.
A copy of the form should be held by the department, in line with data protection guidance.
HR Services do not require a copy of Probation Review forms where performance is satisfactory during the probation period.
The manager should confirm verbally whether or not the employee has completed their probationary period successfully at the final review meeting.
If at the end of the probation period an employee’s work performance, conduct and attendance have been satisfactory and have met with the requirements of the post for which they are employed, their manager should complete the final section of the Probation Review Form (signed by the employee and his/her manager) to indicate that the employee’s appointment should be confirmed. A copy of the completed form should be held by the department, in line with data protection guidance.
The HR Services team will only issue a letter confirming an employee has successfully completed their probationary period where this follows an extension of the probationary period or where difficulties have arisen during their probationary period which have been satisfactorily resolved. In such cases a copy of the completed Probation Review Form should be sent to HR Services by the Department to trigger the issuing of the confirmation letter.
Managers should discuss with their staff, any difficulties which arise during the probation period at the time when they occur, rather than leaving them until the formal review meetings.
Where difficulties arise the manager should meet with the employee, informally in the first instance to:
The manager should use the Probation Review Form to keep a record of the details referred to in the meeting and ensure that this is signed by both parties (i.e. the line manager and the employee).
If an employee’s performance/conduct/attendance does not improve following the initial meeting, within a reasonable and realistic timescale, it may be necessary to discuss the matter at a more formal meeting.
Where a formal meeting is to be arranged to discuss difficulties during probation advice should be sought from an HR Manager, who may also be present at the meeting.
The employee should be invited in writing to attend the meeting, giving them appropriate notice. The letter should state the reasons why they have fallen short of the required standards and they should be provided with evidence of this, where available, prior to the meeting.
The employee will have a right to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or trades union representative and should be notified of this in the invite letter.
At the formal meeting the steps set out in the above informal process should be repeated . Following the meeting, the employee should be given an opportunity to improve their performance and be advised that should they not improve and reach the required standards of performance/conduct/attendance by the time of the final review meeting, they may not be confirmed in post, and could therefore have their employment with the University terminated.
The manager should confirm in a letter to the employee the details and actions of the meeting, sending a copy to HR Services for retention on the employee’s personal file. Advice on letters to confirm actions taken under the formal procedure should be sought from an HR Manager.
The above steps should continue to be followed and monitored during further formal meetings and during the formal review meeting process. Where an employee has not reached the required standards of performance/conduct/attendance during their probation, despite efforts to address this, then the procedure described in the section on Non-confirmation of Appointment should be followed and explained to the employee in advance of their final review meeting.
The University reserves the right to extend the probation period in circumstances where due to sickness absence or other authorised absence it has not been possible to assess an employee’s performance.
Where absence is due to disability or to maternity leave advice should be sought from HR Manager.
In exceptional circumstances where it is felt that an employee has not yet demonstrated their suitability, but are likely to do so, given more time, the probation period may be extended.
Extensions should be for no longer than 3 months. Managers should be aware that employees gain greater employment rights following 12 months of employment. It is therefore advisable that all extensions to an employee’s probation period should be discussed with a relevant HR Manager.
Where the probation period is extended, the following must be discussed between the manager and the member of staff;
The manager should confirm in a letter to the employee the details and actions of the meeting, including confirmation of the extension sending a copy to HR Services for retention on the employee’s personal file.
Monitoring will continue through the probation period, and the employee and their manager will meet to formally review progress.
If performance is deemed to be satisfactory then a final copy of the Probation Review form should be completed, signed by both parties, and sent to HR Services who will write to the employee to confirm that they have successfully completed their probation period.
Where an employee has not reached the required standards of performance/conduct/attendance during their probation, despite efforts to address this, then the procedure described in the section on Non confirmation of Appointment should be followed and explained to the employee in advance of their final review meeting.
Non confirmation should only be considered where the employee has been taken through the procedure as described in the section on Difficulties During Probation and have failed to attain the required standards.
Where an employee has failed to achieve the required standards of performance, conduct or attendance required for their position, they should be invited to a formal final review meeting to discuss this and in order to reach a decision about their employment status.
The employee should be invited in writing to attend the meeting, allowing appropriate notice. The letter should state the reasons why they have fallen short of the required standards and should advise them that a possible outcome of the meeting could be the decision not to confirm them in post during their probation period.
The employee will have a right to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or trades union representative and should be notified of this in the invite letter.
Guidance should be sought from an HR Manager who, where appropriate, can also be in attendance at the decision meeting.
At the decision meeting the manager should;
The manager should ensure notes are taken of the meeting. Any decision reached should be confirmed in a letter to the employee with a copy to HR Services.
Termination of employment during the probation period (original or extended) will be subject to a one month notice period or pay in lieu of notice where appropriate.
Where a decision is taken to terminate an employee’s employment, the letter to the member of staff should state the reasons for the dismissal, their final date of employment and notice/pay in lieu arrangements. They will also be advised of their right to appeal.
Where a member of staff’s employment has been terminated during their probation period they have a right to appeal against the decision to dismiss them from the University. Existing appeal panel mechanisms for support staff will be followed. See Grievance Procedure for details.
In order to appeal they should write to the HR Director stating the reason for their appeal within 10 days of receipt of the confirmation of the decision in writing.
Employees have the right to be accompanied to the appeal by a work colleague or trades union representative.
Where possible, appeals will be considered by a more senior manager (the Appeals Officer) who has not previously been involved in the case. Where a more senior manager is not available, another appropriate manager will hear the appeal. The University will appoint an HR Manager who has not previously been involved in the case to assist the Appeals Officer. The appeal should be heard within 20 days of the HR department receiving the appeal.
The decision taken at the appeal hearing will be final.
In these circumstances a shorter probationary period of 9 months will normally apply. The Head of Department and the Dean in consultation with HR, will agree whether the 9-month probation period should apply to an individual member of staff.
The University aims to secure equality of opportunity in all its activities, and in this respect, the probation process must be objective, clear, transparent and free from discrimination. Heads of Departments/Line Managers are expected to have undertaken equal opportunities training; if in any doubt, the Head of Department/nominee should contact their HR Partner for clarification or advice.
The probation process should work alongside the induction process to help create a positive and supportive working environment, allowing new staff to settle into the University and learn the key elements of the job within a reasonable and realistic timescale.
The probationary Lecturer will be expected to have an appropriate and balanced academic load in line with their position as determined by the HoD/nominee. To help them focus on their teaching and research activities they will not be asked to undertake any substantial academic administrative responsibilities for the department during their probationary period. The HoD/nominee will discuss and agree an appropriate workload with the probationer which will be confirmed in the Probation Plan. If exemption from PGCAP is approved, the workload will be adjusted accordingly.
On appointment, the probationary Lecturer will be allocated a mentor who will not be the HoD or their nominee. The mentor will normally be another appropriately experienced colleague within the Department who will advise and help to guide the member of staff. Should a mentor be appointed as HoD, be otherwise unable to continue fulfilling the role or either party is unsatisfied with the mentoring match, a new mentor will be arranged.
See Best Practice Guidelines on Academic Mentoring for more details.
Staff on probation will be subject to the performance review process detailed in this Probation Policy and Procedure until such time as their probation period is successfully completed. From that point onwards they will be required to participate in the University’s annual Performance Review process. Staff may be recorded as having received a performance review if they have undergone probation review(s).
The review of performance as part of the Probation Plan provides an opportunity for the member of staff to discuss their role and to highlight any support, advice or development they require. The probationary Lecturer will be provided with feedback on their performance against the Probation Plan and will be expected to agree objectives and priorities. If the member of staff has concerns about the level of support that they need or are receiving, this should be raised with their HoD/nominee or mentor as soon as possible.
As a member of academic staff the probationary Lecturer is expected to engage in professional development activities relating to both teaching and research and related departmental roles. It is expected that they will complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) unless exempt, for example because the probationary Lecturer has completed an equivalent course at another University. Shortening the probationary period to 9 months does not negate the expectation to complete PGCAP. The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students in consultation with the HoD must approve any exemption from completion of PGCAP. If the appointment is part-time or there is other objective justification, a longer timescale for completion may – in exceptional circumstances – be agreed that will not preclude successful completion of probation.
Clear, comprehensive and accurate records of probation review meetings should be maintained, including how and what standards are set, how these will be measured and timescales for achieving them.
An academic probation plan is provided for this purpose and serves as a formal record of the performance of the Lecturer during the probationary period. Other material may be used to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the new member of staff in line with their terms and conditions of employment, their job description and the policies and procedures to be followed.
The Head of Department will provide the Dean with a copy of the Lecturer Probation Plan no later than 2 months after their appointment, setting out their objectives for the first 12 months.
The probationary Lecturer’s work and progress will be reviewed against the Probation Plan and there will be formal reviews at 12 and 21 months.
The Head of Department will provide the Dean with an Interim Report on work and progress at 12 months into the appointment and
The Head of Department will provide the Dean with a Final Report on work and progress at 21 months into the appointment
The Dean will provide summary reports at 12 months and 21 months for the probationary lecturers in their departments to the DVC&P. The Head of Department will provide an update on progress with PGCAP (unless exempt) in the Plan at 21 months and the lecturer should attach a copy of their CV derived from PURE with the Plan at 21 months.
The probationary Lecturer will usually be given 1 month’s advance notice of the submission of the Interim and Final Reports which they will receive copies of and be given the opportunity to comment on and, if necessary, correct any factual inaccuracies or omissions.
The Final HoD report(s) are submitted to the Dean for comment and a summary report is provided by the Dean to the DVC&P for approval.If the individual’s probationary period is 9 months, review meetings will take place at 3, 6 and 9 months.
The following procedure should be followed when difficulties arise in the probationary period and the performance of the probationary Lecturer does not meet expectations. In these circumstances the HoD may recommend an extension of probation or non-confirmation of appointment. Non-confirmation of appointment is termination of the employment contract. Extension of probation may be appropriate when the HoD has confidence that the probationary Lecturer will be able to meet expectations within a reasonable timeframe, which may be up to 6 months or in exceptional circumstances up to 12 months.
Non-confirmation in post
At the decision meeting the Deputy Vice Chancellor & Provost will:
Documentation relating to staff will be treated confidentially and related documentation will be subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) as appropriate.
|Head of Department / Nominee||
|Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost||
Application of the policy and procedure will be monitored by the Director of HR. This policy will be reviewed after a period of 4 years.
This Policy and Procedure was approved by Senate in May 2014
This document provides guidance on probationary arrangements for newly appointed lecturers, whose terms and conditions of employment state that their appointment is subject to a developmental probationary period during which they will be supported in meeting the required standards of performance.
The purpose of probation is to:
Probation is designed to ensure that the individual receives the necessary guidance and support during their probationary period and that they receive regular feedback on their progress. It is the process through which the performance of Probationary Lecturers is managed and supported.
The HoD should ensure that arrangements are in place for the induction of the new member of staff, along with integration and support into the department throughout the probationary period.
It is recommended that the HoD discuss and agree a Probation Plan shortly after the member of staff has started in the role – and ideally within the first month - which sets out clear objectives for the probation period and enables the HoD to address any development needs identified at the recruitment stage. This should be done no later than 2 months after the lecturer’s start date and a copy sent to the Dean.
It is recommended that the Job Description and Person Specification form the basis for the Probation Plan to include objectives that are job-specific, focus on deliverables, skills and behaviours and incorporate a mechanism to ensure all of these are appropriately measured and evaluated. These will focus on teaching, research and administrative responsibilities.
Objectives needs to be clear, concise, understood by both parties and include a mechanism and timescale for review. Further information on setting objectives is available in performance management.
It is recommended that the HoD meet with the probationary Lecturer every 6 months to review their progress; more frequent meetings may be needed if there are concerns.
It is recommended that the HoD ensures the probationer has an appropriate and balanced workload and does not undertake substantial administrative roles in their probationary period but seeks to provide opportunities for individuals to demonstrate their leadership and management potential where appropriate.
It is recommended that the HoD arrange mentoring and support for the new member of staff and ensure that the new member of staff is engaged in professional development activities relating to their role and that engages with and completes PGCAP (unless exempt).
It will be helpful for the HoD to draw attention to relevant University policies and to the University vision, strategy and principles and to departmental documents such as its research strategy.
Meeting regularly during the probation period will give the HoD the opportunity to provide feedback, recognise what has been achieved and address any issues that may have arisen. It will also afford the member of staff with the opportunity to discuss how they have found the role and any issues they have experienced.
If the HoD has any concerns about performance within the role these should be raised with the member of staff as soon as possible and involve the Dean and HR Partner at an early stage. The underlying causes should be explored and appropriate action taken to help the member of staff to improve their performance. For example, it may be necessary to identify appropriate training or re-clarify expectations to ensure there is a shared understanding.
Reports should be provided by the HoD as follows:
HR will provide advance notice of the need for these reports via email to the HoD. It is recommended that the HoD give the Probationary Lecturer one month’s advance notice of the submission of the interim and final reports and provide him/her with a copy of the reports. Where there are difficulties and performance is not satisfactory, the member of staff should be given the opportunity to comment on the report(s) and, if necessary, correct any factual inaccuracies or omissions.
Where there is a clear recommendation to confirm in post and this is fully supported by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this is reported to Academic Promotions Committee. HR will write to the member of staff once confirmation of appointment is received from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor via the completed and signed Final Report form.
If the member of staff is not performing as required and has not met the agreed objectives, the process detailed in the Policy and Procedure should be followed which could lead to non-confirmation in post.
Once probation is complete, the performance of the member of staff will be formally monitored and managed through the University’s Performance Review process.