Probation Periods- Can Probation Periods extend beyond 12 months?
The Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994- 2014 provide that an employer is obliged to provide an employee with a written statement of terms of employment within the first two months of the commencement of employment. However, this requirement does not apply to an employee who has been employed for less than a month.
Probationary periods are usually put in place for an initial period of six months, with the option for the employer to extend the probation period up to a maximum period of eleven months. There needs to be provision in the contract to extend the probationary period to allow an employer to do so. Probationary periods, including the notice periods, should not exceed twelve months. The reason for this is that the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 (as amended) do not apply to an employee who is dismissed whilst on probation, if the duration of the probationary period is one year or less.
It is common for employers to provide that their full disciplinary process will not apply to employees who are on probation. However, employers should however ensure that employees who are dismissed whilst on probation are given sufficient notice of their dismissal (if applicable) and should ensure that fair procedures and the principles of natural justice are followed in general terms – i.e. giving the employee a warning that their performance is not satisfactory, giving them a chance to improve, offering some instruction on their role etc.
Employees who have worked for thirteen weeks are entitled to one week’s minimum notice in accordance with the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2005.
The Unfair Dismissals Act 1997- 2007 will not apply to the dismissal of an employee during a period at the beginning of employment when he/ she is on probation or undergoing training provided that:
– The contract of employment is in writing
– The duration of probation or training is one year or less and is specified in the contract.
The above exclusion from the Acts will not apply if the dismissal results from being a member of a trade union, pregnancy- related matters, or entitlements under the maternity protection, parental leave, adoptive leave and carer’s leave legislation.