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UCL Induction and Probation Policy

Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Scope
  3. Policy
  4. Probationary Periods
  5. Induction
  6. Mandatory Training 
  7. Professional Teaching Qualifications 
  8. Professional Developmental Opportunities
  9. Management Responsibilities
  10. Meetings
  11. End of Probationary period
  12. Successful completion of probation period
  13. Extension of probationary period
  14. Non-completion of probationary period-ending employment
  15. Notice periods during probationary period
  16. Monitoring and Review
  17. Appendices

1. Purpose

1.1 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. Scope

2.1 This policy relates to all new employees of UCL, including those on part-time (fractional) and fixed-term contracts.

2.2 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.

2.3 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.

2.4 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.

3. Policy

3.1 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.

3.2 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.

4. Probationary periods

4.1 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 Trainee6
Professional Services Staff, Grades 7-109
Research Staff (including Clinical)9
Academic (including Clinical) with substantial experience: Proleptic Fellows, Lecturer, Associate Professor,
Professor1 and Teaching Staff with substantial teaching experience2
12
Associate Lecturer (Teaching)/ Lecturer (Teaching) without substantial teaching experience 24
Proleptic Fellows and 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.
2 - A minimum of 3 years’ experience of teaching within Higher Education (full time equivalent).

4.2 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.

4.3 Proleptic Fellows are treated the same as academic staff for probation purposes, as they will become lecturers at the end of the Fellowship.

5. Induction

5.1 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

5.2 All new employees are also encouraged to attend the UCL Welcome event for new staff, which is usually run once per term.

5.3 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.

5.4 Proleptic Fellows and Lecturers new to teaching will be assigned a Mentor by their Head of Department and introductions should be arranged as part of the induction process.

6. Mandatory Training

6.1 As a requirement for successful completion of their probationary period, all new employees of UCL are required to complete a number of mandatory training programmes as detailed below. The probationer will need to print the screen at the end of the assessments that confirms they have completed the training.

  • As part of UCL’s commitment to the principles of Equality and Diversity all new employees must complete the e-learning modules Staff Online Diversity Training and Unconscious Bias, on Moodle, within six weeks of their start date.
  • All new employees are also required to complete the online modules of the UCL Safety Induction course within three months of starting at UCL. As a prerequisite, attendees must first have completed their department’s local safety induction.
  • All new employees in professional services are required to familiarise themselves with the UCL Ways of Working for professional services.
  • All new employees are required to complete information compliance training, which comprises Freedom of Information, Information Security and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) training.
  • As part of UCL’s commitment to environmental sustainability and carbon reduction, all new employees must also complete the UCL e-learning module Green Awareness UCL, before the end of their probationary period.
  • “Prevent” training is mandatory for all new employees to support UCL’s approach to safeguarding the welfare of our students and staff. “Prevent” is one of four strands of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy and is mandatory for all new employees. The online training must be taken before the end of the employee’s probationary period.

Additionally,

  • Any new employee who falls within the UCL Staff Categories eligible toundertake supervision of research students, and who wishes to be appointed as a PhD Supervisor at UCL, must complete the mandatory online training course ‘Introduction to Research Supervision’, run by the UCL Arena Centre for Research-Based Education and the UCL Doctoral School. Those with no prior PhD supervisory experience must also attend the follow-up workshop, ‘Developing as a UCL Supervisor’. The Arena Centre runs a programme of events and sessions for supervisors and it is strongly recommended that all supervisors engage with the programme. For details of all training see www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/professional-development/arena- open/research-supervision-ucl
  • Any employee who will be involved in the recruitment and selection of staff at UCL, including participation on interview panels, must complete the e-learning modules Staff Online Diversity Training and Unconscious Bias, as above, and any other mandatory recruitment training, before undertaking any recruitment activity.

7. Professional Teaching Qualifications

7.1 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.

7.2 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 at Appendix C.

8. Professional Development Opportunities

8.1 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.

9. Management Responsibilities

9.1 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.

9.2 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 learnt;
  • 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.

9.3 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 at Appendix D.

9.4 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 at Appendix E. There are also some places available each year for B-MEntor, the mentoring scheme for Black and Minority Ethnic academics and researchers.

9.5 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 afterwards to give constructive and confidential feedback. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for the mentor to undertake this task.

9.6 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.

10. Meetings

10.1 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 to 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. See Guidance on conducting one to one meetings.

10.2 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

10.3 Please see Appendix F for details of what should be covered in each of these meetings.

10.4 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 the date for the next meeting at the same time as agreeing objectives to be met by that date.

10.5 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 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.

10.6 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.

11. End of probationary period

11.1 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.

12. Successful completion of probationary period

12.1 Once an employee has successfully completed their probationary period, Human Resources will send them a letter confirming this.

12.2 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.

12.3 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.

13. Extension of probationary period

13.1 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.

13.2 Further information about extending a probationary period can be found at Appendix G.

14. Non-completion of probationary period - ending employment

14.1 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.

14.2 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 at Appendix H.

14.3 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).

15. Notice periods during the probationary period

15.1 During the probationary period, the following notice periods will apply:

Job Role/GradeNotice from employee to UCLNotice from UCL to
employee
Professional Services Staff, Grades 1-62 weeks2 weeks
Professional Services Staff, Grades 7-104 weeks4 weeks
All Research Staff (including Marie Curie Trainees)4 weeks4 weeks
Associate Lecturers (Teaching)/ Lecturers (Teaching) (including Clinical)4 weeks4 weeks
Academic Staff (including Clinical staff): Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor 12 weeks12 weeks

16. Monitoring and Review

16.1 The HR Policy Team will keep the operation of this policy under review.

17. Appendices

      F. Forms

 

HR Employment Policy Team

November 2019