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Dismissing employee in probationary period....

Hi all, 

First time that I need to do this, can anyone give generic advice as to how to approach this in the most delicate ways?

Well within probation but just really not working out. 

Many thanks in advance. 

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  • Does the individual have any protective characteristics?
    If no, then the commercial risks are low.

    You can invite employee in for a formal probationary review, refer to the job profile/spec, have clear evidence of where they are not performance targets/KPIs & discuss where they should be at by now... etc
    You can then put them on an improvement plan (give a timeframe). If no improvement, you can then follow up & terminate them.

    Alternatively, you can skip the second step and just invite them in for a formal probationary review and explain to them it’s not working out with clear reasons why. It’s generally advised to have the second step so there’s no risks for “wrongful dismissal.”
  • In reply to Nomi MK:

    The clue was in the title and in 90+ % of cases this is what happens

    Invite to meeting including some details of your concern and potential outcome
    Hold meeting
    Confirm decision and offer right to appeal

    In 99% of cases there is no appeal

    Why do it?

    Natural justice
    Alerts you to potential problems
    ACAS Code says you ought to
    Not doing it and then being found to have discriminated means up to 25% extra compensation

    plenty of posts on this subject
  • To add to Peter's advice:

    Don't worry about being delicate. Be clear. Be unambiguous. Be humane. But articulate "it's just really not working out" in terms that are actually helpful. For example:

    - You've managed to annoy every member of your team and none of them wants to work with you.
    - You've been late to the office 3 days out of 5 for the last month.
    - You don't actually have the skills you claimed to have in your interview (common one, this) and we don't have the time or the budget to get you up to speed.

    I've had a few occasions when a manager has wanted to get rid of a new hire quite quickly and so I've pushed back for them to be explicit about why. Very occasionally it's because the manager is actually racist or sexist and isn't comfortable working with the employee. On those occasions, hard words have been had. More often it's because they actually wanted someone who already knew everything about our company, our market, our industry and our internal working practices and can't be bothered to wait for the new hire to get up to speed/aren't happy having their habits challenged/are convinced that the magical work fairy will bring them the perfect candidate if they just throw enough money at agents.

    Most of the time when they have a legitimate reason to get rid of someone early it's actually because, basically, the hire lied in interview: "Oh, sure, I'm a whizz with [insert software platform name here]" or "Yes, I definitely have this qualification". Hiring was done in a bit of rush and time wasn't made to do pre-employment checks or do competence tests. In those cases, it's a lot easier to justify a dismissal.
  • Be honest! That doesn't mean delicate. If the line manager has been managing them properly it should be obvious to the individual that they are struggling. If you laid the ground rules out clearly at the start (re your probationary terms), then it won't be a surprise when you have to say goodbye.

    But I don't see why YOU have to do it - that should be the line manager's job - after all he/she was the person who was responsible for them.
  • So - not following procedures and safeguarding procedures (which is vital in a school).. extra training was given and tried again but no improvement and actually getting worse. Myself and the line manager will hold the meeting. Lead by the manager but just wanted some advice on how to deal with it.
  • In reply to Lisa:

    Have you checked ACAS? They are quite good at setting out step by step what you should do in these kinds of meetings :)
  • In reply to Rosie Mcleod:

    we have just set it out in a practical way having actually done it successfully thousands of times
  • In reply to Peter Stanway:

    Sorry Peter, did you mean to reply to me there? Not sure I follow. Would you not recommend ACAS then?
  • In reply to Peter Stanway:

    ACAS just has more details sometimes, with letter templates etc. - I wasn't implying your advice was sub par or anything eep
  • In reply to Lisa:

    Hi Lisa

    I have seen meetings go badly wrong when a manager has tried to be tactful and the poor employee hasn't understood what was being said to them. The worst time was informing someone that we would be starting redundancy consultation with them. The employee was smiling, nodding and telling the line manager what a good idea all the proposed changes were while the manager waffled on, trying not to cause upset. This is cruel. You do not want to approach this in the most delicate way; you want to approach it clearly and fairly.

    You managed to express it clearly to us: not following procedures and safeguarding procedures (which is vital in a school).. extra training was given and tried again but no improvement. That is a perfectly good reason to fail someone. There is nothing wrong in saying that in those words.

    What you need to do is IMA. Invite. Meeting. Appeal.It's fair, simple and Acas-compliant, as as mentioned above, you will find many threads on here about this.
  • In reply to Nomi MK:

    What if the individual does potentially a protected characteristic?
    Disability - ADHD?
    This wasn't formally disclosed but we aware.
    They are still on probation.


    This is different to the other situation I posted about earlier.

    Many Thanks!

  • In reply to Lorraine:

    You need to be able to demonstrate what the real reasons for the dismissal were. If you don't give someone real reasons with practical examples, it leaves it open to them to speculate whether it was because of a protected characteristic, so that's another reason for not shying away from spelling things out very clearly.

    Of course, you can give the real reasons with factual examples and the employee might not believe you and might still attribute their dismissal to discrimination. If someone is determined to do this, they will. But if they then bring a claim and you are able to muster the evidence of the issues with their performance such as the failure to follow safeguarding procedures (as was one of the problems in this case) then you have a chance for the employee to get a different perspective via Acas. If there is still no getting through to them then a tribunal will not usually go hunting around for a different motivation for the dismissal if there is an actual reason which is well supported by evidence that pre-dates the decision to dismiss rather than being cobbled together after it as a justification.

    Also, it is not enough for the person just to bring out their protected characteristic like dealing an ace from a pack of cards. They have to trace a line from your knowledge of their characteristic to your behaviour.

  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Thank you Elizabeth. Really there has been an build up of instances which are causing us to look at dismissal. The individual has:
    Been disruptive constantly talking (this could be related to ADHD) and also not talking truthfully
    Held the company to ransome of sorts over a training course (current cert expiring demanded we gave an answer by 12 noon one day last week or their parents would pay for it this outburst disrupted others work. We had a meeting to discuss this behaviour as unacceptable.
    Today the same I individual failed to complete the course again being disruptive and said they were injured during the training, were asked if that wanted go carry on, said yes the didn't want to do the last part of the training meaning the company will have go pay again. The training providers first aid spoke with the individual too.

    I'm nervous saying the behaviour, likely part of their ADHD, is the reason for looking at dismissal but it is the reason. They work in a workshop with machinery and forklifts so we also have to bear in mind the other employees and their safety.
  • In reply to Lorraine:

    If the behaviour could be a consequence of a disability, and it really sounds as if it could be, I would not make a move without an OH report. If it turns out that the behaviour is caused by ADHD, and if the behaviour is not safe around machinery and forklifts, then as well as asking for recommendations on adjustments which you will then weigh up to see if they are reasonable, I'd want to know if there was anything else that could help the person without causing another risk (e.g. drowsiness caused by drug therapy when operating heavy machinery). Ultimately, it can never be a reasonable adjustment to tolerate risky behaviour. You have to address this, and it can't be allowed to continue, but you need OH in order to know whether you are on a conduct or capability track. Either track has two possible outcomes: performance improves or it doesn't and employment terminates, but how you get there is crucial.

  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Thank you Elizabeth. That's a huge help. I've been speaking with OH providers over the last week or so anyway as we don't currently have one in place.
    I've asked for a meeting with the Ops manager and the individuals line manager to ensure this training course failure mess is dealt with.
    Thanks again