Are you thinking of promoting a current member of staff? Have they excelled in their role and you’re rewarding them with a more senior role, higher responsibilities, and a pay rise? Great. You may be considering placing this employee on probation, to ensure they can perform the role as well as you hope they do.

Whilst a probation period may seem like your next step, we recommend utilising a trial period instead. Find out why trial periods are more effective and how it differs from probation periods below.

Probation vs Trial periods

Probation periods are typically used as an employee is initially welcomed into the company. The benefits of a probation period allow employers to see if new recruits can fulfil a role or even fit into your business’s culture. Probation periods are generally around six months long but can differ from business to business and role to role. This period can be passed early if you are impressed with progress or similarly extended if an employer sees fit. The probation period also means that processes such as disciplinary do not need to be followed.

What are trial periods?

Trial periods can be utilised in HR for promotions. This period is ideal for employees stepping into a position of more responsibilities. Trial periods should be utilised if an employee has passed an initial probation (for their original role) and has over two years of service, as the full capacity and disciplinary process is required. The trial period allows the employee to see if they enjoy and excel at the role. If they don’t, this period gives them the flexibility to revert to the previous role. This period ensures employees feel more security and less pressure, especially if the role is a significant promotion.

So, imagine you have promoted an employee who is great at their job. The promotion may be a management position, making this employee the first point of contact for a team they are responsible for. Whilst this person may be great at the practical, day-to-day duties, they may not enjoy the management aspect, such as discipline or offering advice. A trial period would allow the employee to instantly step back down into their old role.

Why it’s important to recognise the difference

Whilst trial periods offer the benefits discussed above, there are also instances of why probation periods are not appropriate for employees.

If an employee is being promoted, reverting them back to the probation period could be incorrect. The probation period allows employers to avoid processes like the disciplinary period with new staff. Existing employees who have over two years of service should not be placed on probation as the full capability and disciplinary process needs to take place, making this period unsuitable for most.

It is also important to remember that over two changes within an employee’s terms and conditions require a new contract with continuity of service.

If an employee requires a new contract, you may need professional assistance. NORi HR and Employment Law can assist you and write Employment documents. Our HR360 package will enable your company to comply with legislation. Find out how we can help here.

Contact NORi HR & Employment Law

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