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Durham University

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Probation - Administrative Staff in Grades 1 to 5

Scope of Policy

  1. Probationary Period
  2. Support during probation
    2.1 Induction, PDP, Advice and Training
    2.2 Workload
    2.3 Mentors
  3. Probationary Reviews
    3.1 Three month review
    3.2 Six month review
  4. End of Probation Period
    4.1 Confirmation of Appointment
    4.2 Extension of Probation Period
    4.3 Non Confirmation of Appointment
  5. Criteria for Confirmation of Appointment
  6. Criteria for non confirmation of appointment
    6.1 Behaviour
    6.2 Under performance
  7. Right of Appeal

This policy aims to ensure fair, equal and consistent treatment of staff during their probationary period.

  • Probation period length and review dates are agreed at appointment by HR and line manager/supervisor and included in the Contract of Employment.
  • For Posts Grade 5 and below, the probation period is normally 6 months.
  • Any period of absence or maternity leave does not count towards the probationary period.
  • Induction, training and mentoring should be used during the probation period to provide appropriate levels of support to new members of staff.
  • Regular review meetings and a Personal Development Plan (PDP) are completed during the probation period by the line manager/supervisor.
  • Issues of performance during the probation period should be raised with the appropriate HR Manager and remedial action taken.
  • At the end of the probation period a decision on confirmation or non confirmation of appointment is made. Exceptionally, in some cases, probation may be extended.

1. Probationary Period

All new staff, except casual staff and staff on short fixed-term contracts of 6 months or less, are initially appointed for a 6 month probationary period.

The probationary period may be shorter when the appointment is for a fixed term of six months or less.

The probation term and dates for review are outlined in the member of staff's Contract of Employment.

Any significant period of absence or maternity leave taken during the specified probationary period does not count towards the completion of the probationary period.

At the end of the probationary period, probation may only be extended, usually by a maximum of three months, except where extension is due to absence or maternity leave.

2. Support during probation

2.1 Induction, PDP, Advice and Training

On appointment it should be made clear what the requirements of the job are and the aspects of work to be assessed during and at the end of your probation period. A PDP must agreed between the line manager/supervisor and the member of staff to set objectives for the probationary period.

The line manager/supervisor is responsible for making arrangements to provide the necessary advice and training for new members of staff.

New members of staff should be encouraged to work through our online induction - or attend the Staff Induction Event (available twice per year). They may also participate in in-house courses and other courses relevant to their work.

2.2 Workload

Day-to-day duties and workload allocated to probationary staff should be in line with their job description.

2.3 Mentors

It is strongly recommended that where practicable, line managers/supervisors formally nominate a colleague who is not on probation to act as a mentor to new staff. The name of the mentor should be included in the Contract of Employment and introduced to the new member of staff on their first working day.

For further details on mentoring visit

3. Probationary Reviews

At any point during the probation period or at a review stage, if issues of performance or behaviour are identified, the line manager/supervisor or Head of Section is advised to contact their HR Manager.

During probation, the performance of new members of staff is assessed by at least one review meeting.

The review meeting(s) will review progress against the agreed PDP and are conducted by the member of staff's line manager/supervisor.

Please note: HR will not send a reminder about the PDP or probation review dates. When the new member of staff accepts their offer of employment, probation requirements will be outlined in an automatic email sent from HR via iGRasp. The PDP and reviews should be diarised and led by the line manager/supervisor.