In what circumstances might it be appropriate to extend an employee's probationary period?

An extension of the probationary period may be appropriate where the employee's performance is unsatisfactory but shows some signs of continuing improvement. In this case, extending the probationary period will allow the employer an opportunity to decide whether or not the employee will be able to meet the required standard, for example with further training or practice.

Where the employee has been absent from the workplace for a significant proportion of the probationary period, for example on sickness absence following an accident, an extension of the probationary period may be necessary to allow the employer to evaluate his or her performance over a reasonable period of time.

An employee will not obtain the right to claim unfair dismissal until the completion of two years' service. The employer should take this into account when deciding the length of any extension, although it is unlikely that it would be appropriate for a probationary period to last more than two years in any event.