Daisy Warner

Daisy Warner


June 20, 2023

How notice periods differ during probation periods

This article looks at the notice period during probation, extending probation, and if contracts can be terminated with immediate effect.

How notice periods differ during probation periods

A Notice period is the period to terminate the employment by either the employee or employer, in cases of dismissal. This period will vary based on the industry or seniority of the role, but usually is between 1 to 3 months.

During the probation period — the trial period for an employee at the start of employment which is usually between 1 to 6 months — contracts may be terminated by either party on much shorter notice.

Notice periods during probation for employers and employees

During a probation period (also known as a probationary period), employers can mutually agree to terminate an employee’s contract on much shorter notice. This will be less than what an employee is usually entitled to once they successfully pass their probation. They may shorten it based on factors such as performance, fit or absenteeism. 

A shortened notice also applies to an employee; they can choose to leave during this period if the working relationship or role is not suitable. 

Both parties must give at least the notice in their contract, set out by the employer, or the statutory minimum—whichever is longer.

Statutory notice periods

In the UK, if a notice period is not included in an employee’s contract, an employer must give you at least the statutory minimum period of notice, which depends on how long an employee has worked for them. The following statutory notice periods may apply:

  • At least one week: Employees who have been working between one month (e.g. during probation) or up to two years of employment.
  • Two weeks or more: Employees are given one week of notice for every year they have worked, if an employee has been continuously employed for two or more years.

It is important to include this information in the written statement in a contract which both parties sign, and therefore are protected in any legal disputes. Not providing a contract carries a risk for the employer and employee, particularly in cases of notice period.

Alongside notice, employees are entitled to any remaining accrued holiday or general pay.

Employees can contact the Acas helpline for advice on handing in notice and their rights.

Extending probation periods and notices

The initial probation period may result in:

  • The employee successfully passing their probation and they will become a permanent employee  
  • The employee not passing their probation, possibly resulting in the termination of the contract which typically is on short notice
  • The employee’s probation is extended for a further period

There are no set rules on probation periods being extended, so it may be up to the discretion of the employer. Often, the extension will not exceed the initial probation period. Probation periods may be extended due to specific targets or attendance. 

Both parties should communicate their expectations, during this extended period, to ensure that employees have the opportunity to make improvements to areas that led to the extension and employers can re-review an employee’s performance or other parts of their role. 

If expectations are not met, the notice period to terminate an extended probation will likely fall under the same contractual and statutory notice timeframes. 

Termination or resignation with immediate effects during probation

Notice period may be shortened by employers in cases of dismissal or redundancy during the probation. However, where possible, employers should aim to inform the employee as soon as possible so they can apply for other opportunities and make necessary arrangements.

Equally, an employee has the right to resign with immediate effect during their probation period. If an employee decides that the job is not suitable for them, they can choose to resign without providing a notice period. Although it is best practice for the employee to communicate their resignation to the employer with suitable notice, even if it is effective immediately. This allows the employer to refill the position, if necessary. 

It is important for both employers and employees to be aware of the terms and conditions outlined in the employment contract to ensure compliance with applicable labour laws and regulations.


With Legislate, employers can tailor lawyer approved agreements to suit the type of contract, and all parties can easily search key terms, such as probation period, within their contract. Book a demo or sign up today for our contract management software. 

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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