Can an employer withhold certain rights or entitlements from a new employee until the end of an agreed probationary period?
Although it is usually of benefit for an employer to stipulate a probationary period, at the end of which an employee's performance can be reviewed, it should be noted that probationary periods have no meaning in law. This means that any qualifying period required for statutory rights in employment starts to run from the date employment commenced, irrespective of whether or not any probationary period was in place. As regards contractual entitlements, it is open to the employer to elect to make these conditional on a minimum period of service. To ensure that this is lawful under the age discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010, the minimum period of service should be no more than five years (or if longer, the employer must reasonably believe that the requirement fulfils a business need).