<< Back to Updates

Probation Period under NAECI contract

In an ideal world, all individuals that companies recruit and select for employment turn out to be reliable and hard-working employees. Regrettably, that is not always the case.

NAECI 5.7 states that the first 4 weeks of continuous employment, by a newly recruited employee, shall be regarded as a probationary period. This probationary period allows the employer the opportunity to monitor and assess the new recruit in terms of their occupational proficiency, conscientiousness, engagement with health and safety, behaviours at work, and their timekeeping and attendance etc. to ensure that they can perform the role to their employer’s satisfaction.

During the 4-week probationary period, both employer and employee need only give 2 hours notice of termination. If the employer were considering actioning such a termination, they would not be required to give formal warnings before proceeding to dismissal and the employee would have no rights to pursue a claim through the NAECI procedure (though the company’s domestic policies may give a right to an in-company appeal against such a dismissal).

The NAECI probationary period gives the employer some latitude to ‘move on’ any new employees who prove themselves unsatisfactory. The employer should: meet formally with the new employee; make them aware of the concerns; if appropriate give the employee a little time to show the required improvements; and, if there is no change in performance, terminate them with 2 hours’ notice before the probation period ends.

Whilst it is still possible to dismiss a poorly performing employee after the end of the probationary period, it is much more onerous and does require an employer to run a fair and transparent performance management/capability process, which will involve; meeting formally with the employee; setting objectives and standards; monitoring subsequent performance against such objectives and standards; giving various warnings if improvements are not made; before potentially actioning any dismissal. After the 4-week probation period, the employee can access NAECI procedures and could appeal any dismissal.

The NAECI’s probationary period provides employers the opportunity to deal with poor-performing or unsatisfactory new recruits in a timely fashion. Members should ensure that their company’s supervision conducts proper reviews of new NAECI employees during the probation period, rather than letting poor performers coast beyond that 4-week period. 4 weeks allows enough time to form an objective impression of a new employee. If somebody is either reluctant to engage fully with work tasks, argumentative, uncooperative, displays poor timekeeping or has a cavalier attitude to health and safety during the first 4 weeks, the chances are that they will not get any better in the longer term. Employers should be minded not to let such a situation drift beyond the probation period.

NB. Members need to be aware that when used correctly and objectively the NAECI probation provisions remove the chances of a subsequent unfair dismissal challenge. However, they would offer no protection against claims of discrimination from employees who possess one of the “protected characteristics” named in the Equality Act (e.g. race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment etc.)

Members wishing to explore how they might use the Probationary Period in NAECI 5.7 better should contact their ECIA Regional Manager.