Small Charities Induction and Probation

What is induction and probation?

Congratulations! You’ve worked through your recruitment process and have found the ideal candidate to fill a role in your charity.  

Staff induction, or onboarding, refers to the administration needed to bring in a new member of staff, and the period of getting to know each other. Your new member of staff will need information, contacts and support to begin working effectively for your charity.  

Before the start of their employment, you will need to think about: 

  • contract of employment 
  • employer’s liability insurance 
  • setting up payroll and pension 
  • new starter access to IT systems, platforms etc 
  • equipment that you need to provide for them to do their job 
  • desk space, locker, anything else related to where they will work – including support for mobile, remote or hybrid working 
  • keys and access to the premises 
  • information you need to provide once they start work 
  • programme of meetings/calls and any training needed during the first few weeks of employment 
  • any support the line manager of the new member of staff will need 

Probation is a formal arrangement for a fixed period covering the first few weeks or months of the employment relationship. Usually, probation is set at between three and six months, but there is no legal minimum/maximum. The period can be extended, if necessary, before the appointment is confirmed. The required notice period during probation is usually short – often one week’s notice on either side.  


Why it matters 

First impressions last, so the way you bring your new recruit into your organisation will set the tone for your working relationship. You have invested time and resources in creating this role and going through your recruitment process, so you will want to make this investment pay off. Make sure your new member of staff has the information and support they need, to understand how your organisation operates, their role in it and how the work they do directly contributes to your organisation meeting its strategic and charitable objectives. This will give them the best chance to start making an impact quickly. 

During the probationary period, your charity and your new member of staff are learning about each other and testing out the information that has been shared during recruitment and induction. It’s a time for you to make sure you have made the right choice in your candidate and assess their skills and suitability for the role. And it’s also a period for your new member of staff to understand your charity’s culture, how your values are embedded in behaviours, and what the role involves on a day-to-day basis. 

If either of you decides that the appointment isn’t right, or the relationship isn’t working, probation conditions mean that you can part ways relatively easily. 

But remember that during probation the member of staff still has some statutory rights, including the right not to be unfairly discriminated against, and protection against unfair dismissal.  


Who needs to know 

New members of staff will go through your induction process and a probationary period. They will need to know what to expect – and who to turn to if they have questions. Ask for feedback from your new starters on their experience of induction, as this can help you identify where your information could be clearer or support could be more effective. 

It’s also worth sharing induction information with existing members of staff, particularly if it has been updated since they joined your organisation.  

Clarity around line management responsibilities will help everyone understand their roles. This information should be shared with the whole team. 

Your trustees will also want to know that you are ensuring new members of staff are being supported when they join your charity. You may find that you can use some of the same materials and information for the induction of new staff members and new trustees.