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Contract received 4 months after job offer with surprise probationary period

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by garstangrover, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. garstangrover

    garstangrover New commenter

    Hi all. I applied for and was offered a new job for September in March. The interview was on the Friday and the offer letter came through on the Monday with the salary details and start date, etc.

    I only just received my contract yesterday and it mentions a probationary period of a year. This probationary period was never mentioned in the job advert or the offer letter. Is it worth questioning it and not signing the contract yet or would it get their backs up before I even start? I am an experienced teacher at the top of the payscale.

  2. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I am probably being ignorant, but don't most (if not all) posts come with a probationary period? I'm in the independent sector, and even those appointed to posts of responsibility tend to have a year-long probationary period, certainly in my own experience. It has never been anything to worry about from my perspective (assuming that the school is happy with you / you're happy with the school during that probationary period).
  3. garstangrover

    garstangrover New commenter

    Yes, it may be my ignorance as it is my first new post in seven years and I have never had a probationary period before
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I certainly wasn't implying you were being ignorant! It's only right that you're looking at things in detail and querying the small print. As I said, I'm in the independent sector, and it's been par for the course for new appointees to have a probationary period - but I don't know if that is true of the state sector (I haven't taught in a state school for a while now).

    But as I said above, a probationary period has never been anything to worry about, in my experience - unless something goes wrong during that period, and either you / the school doesn't come up to expectation.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. garstangrover

    garstangrover New commenter

    Thanks, this is in the State sector and I think with many being academies it can vary from school to school. Probably nothing to worry about as you say but I just thought it would have been mentioned before now
    agathamorse and steely1 like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    What does it mean though? What is that won't happen during your probationary period that will happen afterwards? Does it actually mean anything at all?
  7. garstangrover

    garstangrover New commenter

    It does say "During the probationary period, contractual terms and conditions will apply" so probably not a lot of difference apart from the fact the job is not "confirmed" until after the 12 month period.
    agathamorse and steely1 like this.
  8. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I can only go on my own (limited) experience in independent schools. Where I've taught, the first 12 month probationary period means that the school reviews your suitability for the post during that first year (e.g. regular meetings with a mentor; some lesson observations; end-of-probation period review) before confirming the appointment officially at the end of the period.

    Or the school can choose to extend the probationary period - the latter has never happened to me, fortunately, though I suspect it happens where there may be some concerns that have arisen. Also, during the probationary period, in the schools I've taught in, the school can give two months' notice if they're unhappy with the new appointee.
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    In which case I can't see how it makes any practical difference. With or without a probationary period the school can dismiss you within the first two years without having to have a reason.
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Don't worry.

    What most people in any profession don't realise is that you have no job security at all for the first two years. None.

    In those first two years, not just one, they can terminate your employment without having to give you a reason that you can challenge.

    So you have a one-year probation period, they say you pass, yet one month later they can dismiss you for no reason.

    That's just employment law, applicable to everyone in every job.

    So ignore the probation period. It has no meaning at all.

    Best wishes for starting the new job!

    Twitter @Theo_Griff
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Unless the reason for your dismissal is related to discrimination under the Equality Act (eg disability discrimination) or one a limited number of 'automatically unfair' reasons for dismissal - dismissed for whistleblowing for example. You are protected against dismissal for those reasons from Day 1 of employment, you don't have to wait 2 years.

    But an employer cannot get around these Day 1 protections by declaring you to be on a probationary period. 'Probation period' has no special meaning or status in employment law. As far as job security is concerned it matters not at all whether your employer says you on probation.
  12. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Maybe schools should have a digital copy of teaching contracts on file so they can just amend the relevant details and issue them in an expeditious manner?

    Four months to issue a contract? Crazy. It's in everyone's interest to get them issued and signed as soon as possible.
  13. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Actually they don’t have to give you a contract... until two months... after you started work.

    Which means about October half term for a September start.

    So this contract has really been very quick.:)

    Best wishes

    Twitter @Theo_Griff
    Rott Weiler and agathamorse like this.
  14. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The legal deadline for issuing contracts relates to the first day of employment not to when the job offer was made and for some reason schools tend to leave this until the last possible date. So getting the contract two months before your start date, even if it was 4 months after the offer, counts as lightening fast by the standards of most schools!

    Incidentally (although not relevant to OP) the rules about the "contract" (strictly the "Written Statement of Employment Particulars") changed in April this year. It used to be that it had to be issued within two months of starting. It now has to be issued on or before first day of employment. Let's see how many schools have noticed that change in the law!


    The contract also has to contain more information than it used to.
    TheoGriff and agathamorse like this.

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