- Probationary Periods
- Mandatory Training
- Professional Teaching Qualifications
- Professional Developmental Opportunities
- Management Responsibilities
- End of Probationary period
- Successful completion of probation period
- Extension of probationary period
- Non-completion of probationary period-ending employment
- Notice periods during probationary period
- Monitoring and Review
1. This Policy is intended to provide:
- a structured induction to all new employees; to welcome them to UCL, provide initial training, explain required standards and set objectives for the probationary period
- a structured probationary period for all new employees to introduce them to the main duties and responsibilities of their post and to allow the opportunity for both the individual and the line manager to objectively assess whether or not the employee is suitable for the role
- in the case of staff undertaking teaching, supporting a structured training programme for the role within the probationary period
- a framework for addressing any concerns, offering support and training to address perceived unsatisfactory performance or conduct at an early stage
- a process to end employment fairly and consistently across all staffing groups during, or at the end of, the probationary period, at a point where it becomes clear that no further training or support would allow the employee to reach the required standards.
2. This policy relates to all new employees of UCL, including those on part-time (fractional) and fixed-term contracts.
3. All new employees of UCL will undergo a probationary period as outlined in this policy. In some circumstances however, a reduced probationary period may be appropriate. Any amendments to probationary requirements, including a reduction of the probationary period, will be at the discretion of the Head of Department/Head of Division, following consultation with their Human Resources Business Partner.
4. If an employee moves to a new role at UCL, after they have previously completed a probationary period, they will not normally have to complete another probationary period. Anyone changing roles should receive a thorough induction and be set objectives towards the standard appraisal, review and development scheme.
5. During the probationary period any concerns, unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, sickness or other absence, will be dealt with under this policy. Following successful completion of a probationary period the relevant UCL policy will apply, e.g. Grievance, Capability, Disciplinary or Managing Sickness Absence.
6. UCL operates a fair and rigorous recruitment and selection process which aims to attract and employ the best. The aim of this Induction and Probation Policy is to ensure that from an individual’s first day with UCL, the necessary information and support is provided to enable successful and continuing employment. In order to do this it sets out obligations and milestones for both manager and employee. A flow chart of the Induction and Probation process is available at Appendix A.
7. It is the expectation of UCL that the majority of new starters will successfully complete their probationary period, however in the rare circumstances this is not possible, the processes to be followed are also outlined in this policy.
8. The length of an employee’s probationary period is defined by their job role/grade as follows:
|Job Role/Grade||Probationary Period (months)|
|Professional Services Staff, Grades 1-6||6|
|Marie Curie Trainee||6|
|Professional Services Staff, Grades 7-10||9|
|Research Staff (including Clinical)||9|
|Academic and teaching staff with substantial experience:|
Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor1, Proleptic Fellows, and Teaching staff (Associate Lecturer (Teaching) through to Professor (Teaching)) with 3 years HE experience. This includes equivalent clinical titles.
|Associate Lecturer (Teaching)/ Lecturer (Teaching) without substantial teaching experience||24|
|Proleptic Fellows and academic Lecturers without substantial experience||36|
1 - In exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of a Dean, Vice Provost or the Provost, the requirement to serve a probationary period may be waived for some senior appointments, where doing so is felt to be commensurate with the need to attract and retain staff.
9. For employees with a fixed term contract or funding end date shorter than the length of the relevant probationary period, the normal probation process will be followed for the duration of employment. If employment is subsequently extended, the probation period will be extended up to the standard period.
11. It is a requirement that all new employees commence their employment at UCL with a structured induction. As a minimum this will include:
- An introduction to the line manager, team, wider department
- An introduction to UCL-wide and local policies and procedures
- Access to buildings, equipment and systems as appropriate
- Mandatory training requirements and information on how to find and book additional courses
- Health and safety information
- Where to find other kinds of support
12. All new employees are also encouraged to attend the UCL Welcome event for new staff, which is usually run once per term.
13. A checklist is available at Appendix B to assist managers with the induction planning process and it is also a useful tool for reference during the formal probationary meetings.
15. To successfully complete their probationary period, all new employees and workers are required to complete mandatory training as detailed below:
On their first day on campus/on-site:
• Local Fire Safety Induction and Familiarisation (TN086)
• Local safety induction training
New employees must also complete the following online courses on their first working day at UCL:
- UCL fire safety
- UCL safety induction
- Information Security Training with CybSafe
- Data Protection and Freedom of Information
Within the first 6 weeks
- Change possible: Sustainable UCL
- Disclosing and Managing Conflict of Interest
- Prevent at UCL
- Introduction to Equality Diversity and Inclusion
When you complete each course, you must click “save and exit”. You will then receive a completion certificate by email and your MyHR learner record will update overnight.
Role-specific mandatory training
Additionally, there are mandatory training courses which are specific to particular roles. Examples include:
- Research Supervision (for those supervising research students)
- Safeguarding (for those working with children or adults at risk)
- Fair and Inclusive Recruitment at UCL (for line managers and panel members)
- UCL Arena (for PGTA staff)
- Understanding and protecting intellectual property if you work with Innovation and Enterprise and/or handle research outputs and proposals, procure specialist services and/or are Grade 10+.
Professional Teaching Qualifications
16. Teaching is recognised as an essential function at UCL and it is expected that all academic staff will undertake appropriate professional development and training in teaching methodology and practice.
17. Lecturers, Associate Lecturers (Teaching)/ Lecturers (Teaching), and Proleptic Fellows who have little or no experience of teaching in higher education prior to joining UCL, but who teach as part of their role, are expected to complete UCL Arena Two and achieve Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy within their probationary period. Further information is contained in Appendix C.
Professional Development Opportunities
18. In addition to the mandatory training requirements detailed above, UCL’s Learning and Development Portfolio provides other training and development opportunities that may be relevant, dependent on the role. The UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education offers, through UCL Arena, a full academic development programme to all UCL staff who teach and/or support learning.
19. The responsibility for monitoring and managing probationary periods lies with the Head of Department/Division and with those to whom the day-to-day supervision of employees is delegated.
20. The line manager will be responsible for explaining the performance standards required of the new employee and service standards relating to their area of work. This includes but is not limited to:
- expectations of academic, research, teaching, and/or professional excellence and behavioural standards as appropriate;
- attitudes and behaviours in line with the UCL Ways of Working for professional services (if in professional services)
- quality and quantity of output;
- skills that must be acquired or developed;
- protocols that must be learned;
- deadlines which must be met and how any changes to deadlines will be communicated; and,
- working relationships/networks to be developed with other staff, students, external contacts, etc.
21. The line manager must make clear how these standards will be monitored throughout the probationary period and set appropriate objectives. Guidance on setting objectives can be found in Appendix D.
22. For all Proleptic Fellows and Lecturers new to teaching, the Head of Department is responsible for appointing a mentor. Associate Lecturers (Teaching)/ Lecturers (Teaching) should also be appointed a mentor at their request. Full details are available in Appendix E. There are also some places available each year for B-MEntor, the mentoring scheme for Black and Minority Ethnic academics and researchers.
23. To support the development of new Associate Lecturers (Teaching)/ Lecturers (Teaching), Proleptic Fellows, and Lecturers, the manager will arrange observation sessions of their teaching. Observation should cover a variety of student learning situations and sufficient time should be allowed soon afterward to give constructive and confidential feedback. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the mentor to undertake this task.
24. If an employee moves to a different role at UCL during their probationary period, the manager may need to set new objectives that reflect the change in role. If the new role is very different, or in a different department, the decision may be taken to extend the probationary period to allow sufficient time for both parties to objectively assess the employee’s suitability.
25. It is expected that line managers will hold regular one-to-one meetings with all new employees, to provide information, support them in their new role, set standards, provide feedback on performance and progress, and address any concerns from the employee. These meetings should be held as frequently as deemed necessary but no less than once a month. Problems should not be left to a probationary review meeting but raised in a one-to-one meeting as they arise.
26. In addition to one-to-one meetings, 3 or 4 probationary review meetings are to be held at the following intervals:
- First meeting: At the end of the first month of employment
- Second meeting: At the mid-point of the probationary period (month 3/4/6/12/18) or, for Inexperienced Lecturers, during the 12th month of the probationary period
- Third Meeting (Inexperienced Lecturers only): End of second year
- Final meeting: At least 4 weeks before the date on which the probationary period ends
27. Please see Appendix F for details of what should be covered in each of these meetings.
28. Heads of Department/ Division and Departmental Administrators are responsible for ensuring probationary meetings are held in a timely manner and will be reminded of the requirement to complete these meetings through the Probation Monitoring System. It is wise for the employee and manager to agree on the date for the next meeting at the same time as agreeing on objectives to be met by that date.
29. A probationary meeting may be held sooner if there is clear evidence that the employee’s performance is not meeting the required standards, and that more time will not address this failing. This evidence would need to demonstrate that appropriate support had been put in place, and the employee was given sufficient opportunity to improve. A meeting may also be held sooner if there are concerns about an employee’s conduct. If a manager wishes to bring forward a meeting in this way, they should first consult with their Human Resources Business Partner.
30. A clear record must be made of each formal meeting and kept by the department. In addition, a copy of the record from the final meeting must be sent to HR for the employee’s personal file, to confirm whether the probationary period was successfully completed, extended, or failed. Template forms are included at the end of this policy.
End of probationary period
31. At the end of the Final probationary meeting the employee will be notified that:
a) they have successfully completed their probationary period; or,
b) their probationary period is being extended; the reasons why, the length of the extension, any support/training to be provided and any improvements that are required; or,
c) they have not satisfactorily completed their probationary period and their employment will be ended, following the required period of notice.
Successful completion of probationary period
32. Once an employee has successfully completed their probationary period, Human Resources will send them a letter confirming this.
33. Following successful completion of the probationary period an employee will be managed through one-to-one meetings, will be set new or continuing objectives, and be annually appraised.
34. Once an employee has successfully completed their probationary period (or a minimum of nine months’ service for Academic or Teaching staff) they will receive, in the following August, any automatic pay increments to which they are entitled.
Extension of probationary period
35. A probationary period may be extended in the following circumstances:
- There are concerns about an employee’s performance, behaviour, or conduct where it is believed these can be addressed during the extended period.
- The employee has not completed all mandatory training.
- The employee has had a significant amount of time away from work (e.g. on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave or sickness absence) and has therefore been unable to demonstrate competence in certain areas.
- The employee has moved to a different role during their probationary period, which is very different, or in a different department.
36. Further information about extending a probationary period can be found in Appendix G.
Non-completion of probationary period - ending employment
37. If, during an employee’s probationary period, it is suspected that the employee provided inaccurate or misleading information during the recruitment process, this will be discussed with the individual and, if established, employment may be ended.
38. If, at any time during the probationary period, an employee’s performance or conduct is deemed to be unsatisfactory, or they have not completed mandatory training or a required qualification, employment may be ended. This possibility is provided the individual has received sufficient support from their line manager, opportunity for improvement, and the correct procedures have been followed. Employment may also be ended where there has been misconduct. Further information is available in Appendix H.
39. An employee whose employment ends due to non-completion of probationary period has the right of appeal against this decision. The appeal process is contained within the guidance on Ending a Probationary Period (Appendix H).
Notice periods during the probationary period
40. During the probationary period, the following notice periods will apply:
Monitoring and Review
Appendix F. Forms: