Resigning During Probation Period in the UK: What to Know

Is your employee resigning during their probation period? Probation periods exist for a reason, but they also go both ways. Employers use it to test the skills of an employee, and employees use it to make sure an employer is the right fit for them. 

Sometimes, this can lead to employees looking to leave during their probation period. In this article, we’ll cover the key facts informing the process and what you can do – as a UK employer – if your employee quits in their first few months.  

What Is A Probation Period In The UK?

A probation period is a time period that allows both the employee and the employer to assess each other and see how they would fit together. A typical probation period lasts between three and six months. 

For an employee, this is also a crucial time to ensure that they feel prepared for success. An employee wants to see if their expectations toward the company are fulfilled: 

  • Does the marketed job offer align with the responsibilities of the actual job?

  • Is the workload of the job manageable?

  • Is the company culture the right fit for the employee? 

On the other hand, an employer typically wants to check if their new employee: 

  • Can successfully accomplish their tasks and responsibilities on the job

  • If they can manage the required workload

  • If they’re positively contributing to the company culture

A probationary period serves both sides to see if they found the right match. When the new employee is signing their employment contract, the company will inform them (in writing) if they’re signing a contract that has a probation period.

Resigning During A Probation Period In The UK

If during the probation period the company, the new employee or both realise that things aren’t working out, they will have to start the resignation process. There are a couple of things that should be explained when it comes to resigning during a probation period.

Are You Allowed To Quit During the Probation Period?

Yes, new employees are allowed to quit during a probation period. They will have to give their employer a notice period to inform them that they’re resigning.

What Is The Notice Period During Probation?

If not stated otherwise in the employment contract, the notice period will typically be: 

  • If the employee worked less than one month, they can give less than one week’s notice. 

  • If the employee worked between one month and two years, they’re required to give a one week’s notice. 

  • If the employee worked for two years, they need to give a two weeks notice. 

What Happens If You Do Not Give Notice When Quitting During Probation?

Within UK law, there isn’t a minimum notice for employees who have worked less than one month for their employers. So if the employee on probation has worked less than one month for the employer, they don’t have to legally serve notice. 

What Rights Do Employees Have During A Probation Period?

An employee on the probation period has the following rights: 

  • To receive a salary (to be paid)

  • To take sick pay

  • To go on a maternity leave

  • They have the right to be protected from discrimination

  • To receive a properly itemised payslip

  • To accumulate paid holiday entitlement 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Resigning During A Probation Period

Here are the three most asked questions when it comes to resigning during a probation period:

Can Employees Resign Immediately During Probation?

Yes, the employee can resign immediately during a probation period. If they’re employed for less than one month, they can resign without notice.

What Is The Best Reason For Resignation During Probation Period?

There are a couple of reasons why employees can resign during the probation period: can’t handle the workload, the culture isn’t the right fit, no flexibility or not having the right expectations. 

What Do You Say When Quitting A Job During Probation?

The new employee should thank their employer for the provided opportunity and provide a valid reason for why they’re resigning from the position.

How Should HR Handle Early Resignations? 

As an organisation, someone resigning during their probation period is never a good look. But, there are some things you can do to ensure it doesn’t become an issue. 

First, speak to the employee. Host a short probation review meeting to discuss why they have served their notice, the motivating factors and then take those under consideration. You may reveal something about your processes or culture that needs fixing. 

Next, you may want to speak to that employee’s line manager. Ask about their relationship, their collaboration style and see if there are any areas of improvement. At this stage, you could even gauge an employee’s willingness to stay on under a new manager. 

Structured Onboarding Benefits Everyone 

Studies have shown that a great onboarding process can reduce early attrition by huge percentages. So, deliver a structured onboarding that helps your new employees get up to speed – fast! Click here to see why 10,000 organisations trust Personio with their onboarding. 

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