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Hi all,

 

I'm wondering if any of you can provide any advice.

 

I started my new job in July as a manager for a financial services group and was told I was on a 3 month probationary period. This was fine by me and I got to work, having no issues or anything since then.

 

One senior manager however, has made my job really difficult in that he's extremely lazy and incompetent (this is the general view of him across the office) and has used me as a crutch to get the silly jobs he doesn't want to do, done. This has affected my productivity, however nothing has ever been said to me so I assumed that the directors had no issue with the blatant using of my patience and skills by the aforementioned senior manager.

 

That was however, until today. When asking our HR manager about my Christmas bonus, I was told that I was not getting one because my probation had been extended. Do the maths yourself and you'll understand that my probationary review was supposed to be in early October. After asking my line manager (a director) when this would happen and being fobbed off around 7-8 times, I assumed that if there were any serious issues, he'd be determined to have the meeting.

 

I was never told by ANYONE that my probationary period had been extended so was none the wiser, getting on with mine (and the other guy's work!) as normal. The reason (although again, I've not heard this "from the horse's mouth") is that it's because the other manager has used me as a crutch and I haven't been able to do my job properly as a result. So in summary, I'm being financially and professionally penalised for something another person is responsible for.

 

Any advice? Has anyone experienced a similar problem? I was under the impression that to extend my probation, he would have to have a meeting with me to explain why, set parameters for me to hit and have me sign the development plan to confirm I agreed to the probation extension. Needless to say, this hasn't happened. I'm not furious, upset and disheartened. I've done the work of about 4 fellow employees, plus my own, and I feel that because I'm not in the director's clique, I'm getting treated unfairly.

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It is difficult to advise, as a probationary period has no status in law other than to qualify the employee for certain contractual rights. A PP is usually used to give the employer carte blanche to dismiss an employee without reason within the first few months of employment - basically a trial period - however they can lawfully do this anyway as an employee dismissed without adequate reason cannot (unless for certain protected reasons) take a case for unfair dismissal to a Tribunal within the first two years of employment.

 

In your case however the successful completion of a PP appears to qualify you for a Christmas bonus, so the question has to be 'What does your contract say'?

 

If, for example your contract states categorically that the PP may be considered successfully completed where no extension has been required prior to the three months service being completed AND that once completed the employee becomes eligible for the bonus, then the employer may be in breach of that term of the contract. If however the contract remains silent on the subject of when an employee might consider that the PP has been completed, or it states that a PP hearing must take place, then this becomes more difficult. The latter would seem to be the case here, and whilst the employer might be acting unreasonably in delaying that hearing, I see nothing unlawful.

 

The best that you can probably do is to pin down the Director to discuss your probation so that you have the opportunity to raise issues that he may be unaware of, and to express your dissatisfaction that this has disadvantaged you. Take care however, for long term job security may be more important than a short term bonus, and becoming unpopular or over-questioning may shorten your career!


Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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