As the year comes to an end, you may be quite busy making plans for next year such as hiring new employees because the nation’s economic status is gradually improving. Nobody wants to make a mistake in hiring, which is why you should not only trust your recruitment activities to a trustworthy HR firm, but also look beyond the CV.

A CV gives a highlight of the person and helps you to gauge their suitability for the role and into the company. But to clearly know whether the person is right for the job and the company, it is most important is to see the person at play. Unless you have seen the candidate’s work before or probation is not necessary for the role, like in an entry level job, the best way to learn is through experience.

However, like everything else in the labour market, there are rules that must be followed before, during, and after the probation period to avoid legal implications.

This is what this article is about: to examine the concept of probation from as many angles as possible.

What is probation and what are the benefits?

Probation is a test time for new employees to see how they handle their jobs. Probation is normal, optional, and highly encouraged in some companies. It is also mandatory in some companies. Employees who are on probation are exempted from certain duties and benefits.

There is no rulebook that dictates how long the probation should last, but most of them last for a few months to a year. The period should however be realistic otherwise you may be accused of misusing labour and repel great talents. The timeline will depend on how long you believe the employee needs to learn about the company and the responsibilities and start generating results and how long you believe you will have sufficient information to make a decision.

Probation enables both the employer and the employee to assess how they fulfil each other’s objectives and make an informed decision. This is especially important in this age where some job seekers go to great extents of lying about their qualifications to ‘outsmart’ the software that scans and shortlists job applicants only to disappoint when they start the job. From the employees’ perspective, probation enables them to know whether the job is in line with the objectives and the state of the work culture.

The greatest benefit of probation is the money saved from the evidence-backed decision. Sometimes finding the perfect candidate can take a while and losing them after a few months or weeks is financially draining. Probation enables you to make a decision that is backed up by evidence hence minimal chances of making an error.

Critical aspects to consider during probation

The trick is to cover all aspects of the probation to ensure there are no loopholes that can be misinterpreted and lead to legal cases.

  1. Induct new employees well into the company. You will start seeing the results earlier than when they spend the first few weeks learning about the company on their own.
  2. State clearly who is under probation and include it in the contract
  3. State how long the probationary will last.
  4. State what is expected of those who are under probation.
  5. State what can happen during or after the probation?

If the employee can be dismissed, state clearly the terms that can lead to that. Know that they are still protected from unfair dismissal on grounds of disability, race, origin, and other factors. This also means you will have to provide the reasons for the termination to avoid claims of unlawful termination.

Before dismissing, it is recommended that you inform the new employees of the areas that need change and give them time to amend unless the reason cannot be redeemed, which in that case you should invite them to a formal review and inform them about your decision. If all reasons convince you that the employee is not suitable for the job, then a formal review should be conducted and the details documented.

If the probation can be extended, state the circumstances that can lead to it. Let the employees know what will be expected of them in the coming weeks and offer the necessary support along the way. These details should be included in the formal employment contract.

If the employee can appeal, let them know when and why.

6. Address other concerns that they might have. Know that they are still protected by employment laws, which means they are subject to being paid above the minimum wage, time off, notice, sick leave, and others. To be on the safe side, always consult the national and industry-specific employment laws, if any, and adhere to them.

7. Focus on metrics that will help you to make a good decision.

For instance, how are they handling their responsibilities? This will depend on the standards that you have set for them and the expectations.

How do they conduct themselves? The last thing you need is someone who paints the wrong image about the company. Reputation takes time to be built, but it can be destroyed almost instantly.

8. Treat them no lesser than the other employees.

That the decision for continuing or discontinuing with a job is made by both the employer and the employee. It therefore makes sense to treat all employees in the best possible manner.

Conducting a probation review meeting

Conduct the review at the agreed time.

It is also recommended that employers and HRs conduct short informal meetings before the end of the period to ensure the new employees have the support they need to do their jobs. The check-ins are also helpful in case the employees want to terminate the probation.

The meetings are a reflection for both the employer and employee. Creating an environment where all parties can share the heartfelt views is perhaps the best way of improving.

Some questions that you can ask employees are:

  • View of their performance in terms of responsibilities, time management, and team work.
  • The alignment of the job with their desires.
  • The aspects of the job and the company they enjoyed the most and the least.
  • Areas of most and least difficulty.
  • Their main takeaway about the company.
  • Suggestions for self and company’s improvement.


In conclusion,

Probation can save you a lump sum of money if all aspects are done to the best possible state as stated above. The key to an insightful probation is to be transparent about the process and consider all the legal aspects.


Previous posts: 

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  2. The role of Kenyan employers in driving vaccination efforts in Kenya
  3. Employment law updates and proposed amendments in Kenya from 2019- 2021