Starting a New Job

What Is a Probation Period in Ireland?

May 12, 2021

In any new job in Ireland, your first few weeks or months will be a 'probation period'. This period is used to determine if you're the right person for the job. The probation period is stated within your contract and ensures that the company has invested in the right person. In this article, we explore what a probation period is in Ireland, discuss failing and extending a probation period and provide tips for succeeding in your probation.

What is the probation period in Ireland?

In Ireland, a probation period is a period of time after you start a new job where you're assessed by your employer and can be dismissed with little or no notice. When you're on a probation period in a new job, it's similar to working somewhere on a trial basis. A probation period can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. That might seem daunting, but it's the company's way of protecting itself and having the most competent person hired for the role.

During your probation period, it's likely you'll have specific tasks or milestones to complete. The majority of your training will take place during this period so that by the time you've completed your probation, you'll be up to date on the company's protocols. In many instances, all that's required is to show up on time and try your best.

The probation period is also there for your benefit. Being on probation will give you an indication of workload, culture and the work environment. If the job is not what you expected, you have the option of leaving. There will, however, be a section that states you'll be a full-time employee once you've completed your probation period.

What are probation review meetings?

Probation review meetings are regular meetings with your employer to assess your progress during your probation period. When you're in a new job, the probation period will come with a checklist that employers need to complete before signing off that you've passed. Different stages need to be passed during your probation, and these often involves regular meetings.

The main aim of these meetings is to provide you with feedback on how you're progressing in your probation. If you're falling short of their expectations, it will be brought up in the probation meeting so that you can improve in time for the next meeting. For your probation period to end, there has to be a final probation meeting.

During the final review meeting, your employer will let you know if you passed or failed your probation. It's during this time that they can also inform you if they're extending your probation. If you don't pass, they're required to give you a week's notice. While you can appeal this decision, the probation period does not afford you the same security as being a full-time staff member does.

Failing the probation period

In Ireland, the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977-2015 protects employees. With this act, employers are unable to terminate a contract without following proper procedure. There are a few exceptions to this act, and being dismissed at the end of your probation period is one of them. There still needs to be a contract stating the terms of the probation period. There are circumstances where being dismissed after your probation period can fall under this act, including:

  • Parental leave
  • Pregnancy
  • Discrimination
  • Trade union activity

If you feel that your dismissal falls under any of these, you can get in touch with the Workplace Relations Commission.

Extending the probation period

Your employer has the right to extend your probation period beyond 12 months. Your manager will write into the contract that they reserve the right to extend if necessary. If they extend beyond 12 months, you're then entitled to the Unfair Dismissal Acts' benefits. Your employer may extend your probation period if they're still unsure of your suitability. If this happens, you can discuss it with your employer to see how you can prove that you are the ideal person for the role.

End of the probation period

When your probation period ends, your employer will decide if you've passed or will terminate your contract. If they close your contract, the company will give you a week's notice. If it goes past 12 months, then they'll have to provide two weeks' notice.

If you pay attention to your probation review meetings, you'll have a good indication if they'll continue your employment or terminate it. Being on probation is a turbulent time, as you don't have the same benefits as a full-time employee has. You're under scrutiny for a lot of your time on probation, which can be an added stress. We've put together some tips to help you get through your probation so that your employer will have no reason to terminate your contract.

Tips for succeeding in the probation period

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and being on probation means you have to be proactive in your learning and development. Here are some tips to get you through your probation period:

First impressions matter

As with any new experience, the first impression is essential. Be sure to go into the new job with enthusiasm and be open and friendly to others. Your manager will likely be asking others how they view your performance in the role, so it's best to be honest and polite to everyone you meet in the company.

Network

This one follows the first impression tip. It's essential to build relationships with your colleagues. You can do this by asking them to lunch or offering to make them a cup of tea throughout the day. Making connections will make it much easier to work with new people as they'll be more open and friendly with you.

Open communication

It's best to be as honest as possible going into a new role. If you find something difficult, going to your training supervisor or manager will show you can ask for help instead of being overly confident and making a mistake.

Track your progress

Use the probation review meetings to help track your progress in the company. Be sure to ask questions during this time and take notes to assist you with any improvements you need to make before the next meeting. Work with your manager to set goals and plan to achieve said goals before the next meeting.

Show initiative

It's always best to show initiative in a new role. If you feel you need more work, don't wait for your manager to assign you something. Instead, go looking for another project. You can even show initiative by arriving early to work or going into meetings prepared with questions. Doing this will attract your manager's attention and help you be successful in your probation period.

Be accountable

With any new role you go into, you will likely make mistakes. Your manager will allow for these mistakes, but it's always best practice to assume responsibility for any error you make. Trying to hide your mistake or blame someone else will show that you're not a trustworthy person. Taking responsibility for them will offer a level of maturity and help your efforts to become a trusted colleague. Be proactive about the mistake if you realise it and go with a solution to your manager when you inform them.

Work smart

You should aim to impress your employer, but not at the deficit of your health. Arriving early and leaving late will show initiative, but if you spend too much of your time working and not taking the time to de-stress, it can lead to poor work performance which may cause you to fail your probation period.

Avoid office politics

It's easy to get caught up in office politics when building relationships with your colleagues. Keep your opinions neutral and treat everyone with respect, no matter what you hear in the break room. Voicing the wrong idea can damage your probation period, so it's wise to stay away from office politics.

Be careful about taking time off

If you have a holiday coming up, let your manager know during the interview stages so that they can make a note of it straight away. You're allowed to book days off during your probation period if you do it the correct way, and employers will usually allow a certain number of sick days. Going through the correct channels and informing your manager when you're too ill to go in that day will increase your chances of passing your probation period. Keep in mind that too many absences during the probation period will not look good as it makes it seem you're not reliable.

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