Labour Research October 2016

Law Queries

Dismissal during probation

Q. What options does an employee have if they are dismissed during their probation period of a few months?

A. There may be a few options open to them.

When dismissing during probation, an employer is not relieved of all obligations in terms of procedure. 

The standards expected won’t necessarily be the same as for a long-term permanent employee. However, some procedure should still be followed. For example, if the employee is being dismissed for capability reasons, they should have been given a genuine opportunity to prove themselves and had a warning, along with some guidance. 

The contract of employment may provide for a particular procedure to be followed before dismissal. Failure to follow procedure could result in a breach of contract claim for the employee, with the potential compensation being for the salary that would have been paid during the time the procedure would have taken. 

This would be likely to be a few weeks’ worth of salary.

The employee should also be given the correct contractual notice period. Failure to give this would give rise to a breach of contract claim. 

There may also be other types of claims open to the employee, depending on the circumstances, for example, where there are discrimination or whistleblowing issues.