Evaluation period best practice

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Is there a place for short term “pre-employment” evaluation periods in the hospitality industry?

When someone completes a practical stage of the interview process, we’ve been alerted to some incidences lately where these evaluation periods have extended into durations that we would consider excessive.

In our opinion if these evaluation periods extend into several shifts, even a week, you are risking an argument that the prospective employee is prospective no longer, ie their employment has begun. If this is the case you may encounter some serious issues, not least of all that you will not be able to rely on any 90 day trial period provisions.

Here are some key points to note

  • Ensure that the prospective employee understands that the evaluation period is voluntary and unpaid.
  • Get the employee to sign an evaluation period agreement form giving their consent to the voluntary test as part of the recruitment process.
  • Ensure no payment or reward is provided. If you make some payment or provide some reward for participating in the evaluation you will be unlikely to argue the voluntary nature of the test.
  • Ensure the duration of the evaluation period does not extend past 3-4 hours.
  • A legitimate voluntary pre-employment test / evaluation period does not negate the trial period provision, provided the employee is given a reasonable opportunity to take advice and signs the employment agreement before they start work.
  • If the employee is not measuring up consult with the Restaurant Association as to the correct process to follow in accordance with the 90 day trial period provisions.

If you do decide to conduct an evaluation period / pre-employment test with prospective employees to check their suitability for a role contact the Restaurant Association for a copy of our “Voluntary Evaluation Period” agreement form”. You can also contact the Restaurant Association on 0800 737 827 if you have any questions regarding pre-employment evaluations.

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